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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 December 2007, 16:04 GMT
Al-Qaeda suspects in Iraq killed
The US military in Iraq says it has killed 12 suspected al-Qaeda operatives and detained 13 others in separate raids close to the capital.

Ten died in an air strike near the town of Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad, where troops had been searching for a man linked with an al-Qaeda leader.

Earlier, a suicide bomber killed seven people in an attack in the town of Baiji, north-west of the capital.

A building used by different units of the Iraqi security forces was targeted.

Four of those killed were members of a force that guards oil installations. The other three were civilians. At least 11 people were also injured in the attack in Salahuddin province.

Baiji lies about 250km (155 miles) north of Baghdad. It houses the largest oil refinery in northern Iraq, and is a key transfer point for crude oil being exported out of the country.

Meanwhile, a local leader of radical Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr's movement, his wife and two children were killed in a rocket attack south of Baghdad, AFP news agency reported, quoting police and medical sources.

Changing tactics

The violence comes a day after two suicide bombings in the neighbouring province of Diyala killed at least 26 people, including several members of Sunni tribal armed groups fighting against al-Qaeda.

Speaking on Saturday, the commander of US forces in north Iraq said al-Qaeda was changing its tactics in the volatile region.

Major-Gen Mark Hertling said insurgents pushed out from other areas by the US-led coalition and Iraqi troops were carrying out suicide attacks on police targets in Diyala.

However, he said the spate of attacks did not reflect a wider surge in violence.

Instead recent months have seen a sharp and sustained drop in all forms of violence in most parts of Iraq, analysts say.

This has been widely credited to the US troop surge of 30,000 extra troops in and around Baghdad, which started in February.

But senior US commanders in Iraq have warned recent gains could be fragile.

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