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Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Five killed in US-Iraqi raid on Iranian group

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The US military in Iraq say its forces supported the Iraqi military in a raid on suspected members of an Iranian-backed militant group.

It says five people were killed in an exchange of fire.

But local sources have disputed the account, saying that at least seven people were killed, among them civilians.

The fire fight occurred in a village near the Iranian border in southern Maysan province.

The US military says 12 people were arrested . It says the operation was against suspected members of Kataib Hezbollah, a group designated as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department.

"The joint security team was fired upon by individuals dispersed in multiple residential buildings... members of the security team returned fire, killing individuals assessed to be enemy combatants," the US military said in a statement.

"While the number of casualties has not yet been confirmed, initial reports indicate five individuals were killed," it added without specifying who was killed in the raid.

However Maitham Laftah, a member of Maysan provincial council, told the Reuters news agency that 10 people were killed, including two women and five people were wounded.

Local hospital sources told Reuters that eight people were killed, including one woman, and three people were wounded.

In the past two years, violence has fallen across Iraq, but insurgent attacks and sectarian violence is still common in some areas.

Security operations have stepped up as campaigning for Iraq's 7 March national election began on Friday.

There are over 100,000 US troops deployed in Iraq and a staged withdrawal of US troops will begin in late summer, subject to security conditions.



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