British troops arrest insurgents in Iraq

BRITISH troops in Iraq yesterday arrested a group of insurgents suspected of staging bomb attacks that killed two UK soldiers last month.

The Ministry of Defence said troops from the Staffordshire regiment made the arrests during dawn raids in Al Marjarr Al Kabira, in southern Iraq.

Those arrested are thought to be responsible for a blast in the southern city of Al Amarah on 2 May, which killed Guardsman Anthony John Wakefield, 24, and another in the same area on 29 May in which Lance Corporal Alan Brackenbury, 21, died.

"The aim of the operation was to arrest a small number of specific suspects, all of whom are believed to be Iraqi citizens," an MoD spokesman said. "Careful consideration was given to planning and execution of the operation in order to minimise disruption to innocent civilians."

Elsewhere in Iraq yesterday, police dug up the bodies of 20 men bound, blindfolded, shot in the head and buried in shallow graves east of Baghdad, Iraqi police said. Another eight bodies were found in two separate places inside the Iraqi capital. The identities of the dead were not immediately clear.

The grisly discoveries follow the slayings of 21 men near the Syrian border town of Qaim. Their bodies were found on Friday in three locations in the lawless region, 200 miles west of Baghdad.

It was feared that the bodies may be those of about 20 Iraqi soldiers who went missing on Wednesday after leaving their base in Akashat, a remote village near the Syrian border 70 miles south-west of Qaim, in a bus bound for Baghdad.

Last month, multiple batches of bodies turned up in various spots across Iraq. Many were killed in apparent tit-for-tat slayings that raised fears that the country was on the verge of civil war.

Four US soldiers were killed on Saturday in two separate roadside bomb attacks during combat operations west of Baghdad, the American military said.

Two died outside Amiriyah, some 25 miles west of Baghdad while two were killed near Taqaddum, 45 miles west of the Iraqi capital.

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