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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
US forces 'kill 26 Iraqi rebels'
Bystanders at the scene of a Baghdad roadside bombing  12 Aug
Baghdad has been in the grip of sectarian violence for months
US forces in Iraq say they have killed 26 insurgents in clashes in Ramadi, a Sunni stronghold west of Baghdad.

The Americans said they responded when troops came under fire from several locations in the town.

In Baghdad, 60 Iraqis suspected of links with a local al-Qaeda cell were detained in a raid on a funeral on the outskirts of Baghdad, US forces say.

US troops in Baghdad are being bolstered by reinforcements to help quell daily attacks by militants.

Ramadi, 110km (65 miles) from Baghdad, has seen some of the most sustained clashes between US forces and Sunni insurgents, the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Baghdad reports.

On Friday night, US troops "were attacked at multiple locations with rocket-propelled grenades, medium machinegun fire and small arms fire from buildings targeting outposts in the north-west portion of the city," a US military statement said.

Six insurgents were injured and there were no US casualties, the military said.

Security push

Ramadi is in the heartland of the Sunni insurgency but the scene of Friday's raid by US troops, Arab Jabour on Baghdad's southern outskirts, is also known as a Sunni stronghold.

map

US troops swept through the district, targeting what they said was a suspected bomb-making cell linked to attacks across Baghdad.

"Multiple forms of credible intelligence led the assault force to the location, later determined to be a funeral gathering, where the suspects were detained," a US statement said.

The statement said those detained were thought to be associated with a senior leader of the group known as al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Correspondents say it was the first major round-up of suspected insurgents since extra US troops went to the city last week.

Baghdad has been the focus of a new drive by US and Iraqi forces to tackle, in particular, the rising level of sectarian violence.

Despite the increased security crackdown, new roadside bombings in north and east Baghdad left about 12 police officers and civilians injured on Saturday.

Two US soldiers were killed in roadside bombing to the south of Baghdad on Saturday, the US military said.

And at least two people were killed in the bombing of a shop in a market in the southern city of Basra. Four other people were injured in the incident.






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