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Multiple Terror Suspects Captured in Iraq; Insurgents Target Bridges, Civilians

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2007 – Coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists today, including an alleged cell leader, during operations in southeastern Baghdad, U.S. military officials reported.

Those captured are suspected of being part of a terrorist cell network known for its use of explosive devices and for bringing weapons and militants into Iraq from Iran.

The suspected cell leader is believed to have personally coordinated and implemented the use of bombs, officials said.

One terrorist was killed during the operation, officials reported.

“We continue to target the secret cell network, diminishing their capability to conduct attacks against innocent Iraqis and those who are striving for the forward progress of Iraq,” Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said.

Elsewhere in Iraq, coalition forces detained 35 suspected terrorists during several other raids today targeting al Qaeda in Iraq senior leadership.

During a raid near Tarmiyah, coalition forces detained 11 people for their suspected involvement with a regional al Qaeda in Iraq emir and al Qaeda senior leaders. In two other operations in the Tarmiyah area, coalition forces detained eight suspected terrorists allegedly tied to a network responsible for kidnapping, extortion and attacks against coalition forces, officials said.

Northwest of Fallujah, coalition forces targeted terrorists allegedly tied to an al Qaeda in Iraq cell leader and detained 10 suspects.

In Basra, a major security operation led by the Iraqi army, supported by British 2nd

Battalion The Duke of Lancasters and assets from the Joint Helicopter Force, resulted in the arrest of six individuals and the discovery of a weapons cache.

The cache included components used in making roadside bombs, other explosives, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Intelligence and rogue militia propaganda material were also recovered, officials said.

In addition, on May 11 Iraqi special operations forces captured three suspected terrorists, including the alleged leader of the Jaysh al-Madhi militia, U.S. military officials reported.

The alleged terrorist leader is linked to death squads and car bomb attacks on civilians and bomb attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in the Alamel area of Baghdad. He is also suspected of taking part in the burning of a civilian house, U.S. officials said.

The Iraqi forces also detained seven other people suspected of suspicious activities.

The Iraqi forces carried out this mission with coalition forces present as advisors. No Iraqi or coalition forces were injured during these operations.

In a separate incident, three suspected terrorists were detained and a makeshift bomb was destroyed during a coalition forces operation May 11 in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad.

Coalition forces raided a building while targeting a bomb-making network specializing in the use of explosively formed penetrators. At the site, coalition forces witnessed a man placing suspicious items in the trunk of a vehicle. Upon inspection, ground forces saw wires and other indicators the vehicle was rigged with explosives. They destroyed the vehicle on site and detained the man who had loaded the vehicle.

When coalition forces entered the targeted building, they found various bomb-making materials and detained two more suspected terrorists at the scene. The individuals have suspected ties to a secret cell network in the area known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training, officials said.

“We're continuing to target criminals who are involved in murderous operations, including (car bomb) attacks,” Garver said. “The people of Iraq deserve a country where they aren't fearful of indiscriminate assaults by terrorists.”

In other news, 10 people were killed and 53 wounded when separate car bombs detonated on three bridges around Baghdad on May 11.

The first two vehicle bombs detonated just minutes apart.

Initial reports for the first blast indicate a fuel truck detonated about one-third of the way across the Diyala River Bridge southeast of Karadah, igniting multiple vehicles. Seven people are reported killed and 31 injured, officials said.

The bridge span remains intact but requires an assessment of usability, officials said.

Reports about the second blast indicate a yellow dump truck traveling southbound on a bridge southeast of Karadah exploded, killing three people and wounding 22 others including seven Iraqi army soldiers.

A 15-foot section of the bridge fell in the river, officials said. Firefighters arrived to battle the blaze, which had spread to several cars while Iraqi security forces and soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team responded to each of these blasts and sealed off both areas.

A third car bomb detonated on a bridge located on a major highway north of Baghdad. This explosion caused significant damage to the bridge, making it impassable for northbound traffic on Highway 1, officials said.

There are no reports of casualties for this incident.

U.S. and Iraqi officials immediately condemned the acts of violence against the Iraqi people. “The coalition forces stand firmly with the government of Iraq and its security forces in ridding Iraq of these terrorists, who continue their indiscriminate and vicious attacks against the citizens of Iraq,” a coalition official said.

On May 10, Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, attached to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, stopped insurgents from emplacing makeshift bombs in a southern Baghdad neighborhood.

The soldiers were conducting a dismounted patrol in the Doura neighborhood of southeast Rashid district when they caught two individuals attempting to emplace a bomb.

Engaging the men with small-arms fire, the soldiers killed one and wounded a second who fled in a truck and evaded capture after abandoning his vehicle. The soldiers detained a man who was seen talking to one of the insurgents just prior to the small-arms engagement.

Also, soldiers from Company A, 2-2nd Infantry were patrolling in a west Doura neighborhood when they spotted two individuals with rifles displaying hostile intent.

The troops engaged them, killing one. The other attempted to flee in a vehicle, but after soldiers damaged the car with machinegun fire, he escaped on foot. A search of the damaged vehicle revealed a sniper rifle with scope, two rifles and about one million Iraqi dinar in the trunk of the car.

In addition, Iraqi security forces and soldiers from Multinational Division Baghdad continued clearing operations in southwestern Baghdad neighborhoods May 10 and 11, seizing numerous caches and taking a sizeable amount of weapons and munitions off the streets of the Iraqi capital.

Soldiers from the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, along with national police and Iraqi army troops, continued the eighth and ninth days of Operation Dragon Fire/Arrowhead Strike 10 to rid the Rashid District of southwestern Baghdad of terrorists and criminals and protect the population.

The soldiers confiscated a complete roadside bomb, assembled from a 57 mm projectile packed with explosives and detonation cord attached.

Assault rifles, carbine rifles, pistols, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade rounds and several hundred rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition were also found.

Since the clearing operation began May 2, more than 100 weapons of various types and caliber have been seized. About 250 large-caliber mortar and artillery rounds, as well as more than 5,000 rounds of small caliber ammunition and hundreds of bomb-making materials and components have been removed from circulation, officials said.

Also, Iraqi security and coalition forces discovered multiple weapons caches in the Albu Bali region while conducting clearing operations during the past week.

Iraqi police, Provincial Security Force 2, and soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, uncovered 21 enemy caches, including an underground bunker and a car bomb factory.

Local citizens provided Iraqi police and provincial security forces with the locations of many of the caches after a permanent police presence was established in the region 15 kilometers east of Ramadi.

The vehicle bomb factory included six 55-gallon drums of homemade explosives and an assortment of bomb-making material. One of the two vehicle bombs found was partially built when the factory was discovered and contained eight containers of homemade explosives.

Other caches found included artillery and mortar rounds of various sizes, bags of chlorine and phosphorous powder, rocket launchers, and several eight-foot rockets.

The weapons and materials were collected and destroyed by explosive ordnance disposal experts, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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