Iraq arrests Baghdad church attackers
Iraqi officials say a dozen militants have been arrested for involvement in a deadly hostage taking last month that led to the death of 46 people in a church in Baghdad, Press TV reported.
"Security forces arrested the 12-man terrorist group, among them the new military commander of al-Qaeda cell in Baghdad," Director of Iraqi Interior Ministry's Police Affairs Maj. Gen. Ahmed Abu-Rugheaf said in a statement, Aswat al-Iraq news agency reported.
Among those detained was Huthaifa al-Batawi, the leader of an al-Qaeda cell in Baghdad, while another senior leader of the group identified as Ammar al-Najadi was killed.
"The group members confessed to involvement in and responsibility for the attack on Sayidat al-Nejat Church," said the statement broadcast by the semi-official al-Iraqiya TV.
The official said the militants also confessed to their roles in a large number of terrorist operations, including attacks on gold jewelry stores, the central bank and al-Arabiya TV news channel. They had also engaged in producing home-made explosive charges and belts.
Six tons of explosives, along with a quantity of toxic gas, were seized during raids on the hideouts of the suspects across the capital city.
Forty-four Christian worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel were killed during the October 31 attack on the Baghdad cathedral and the fire exchange that followed when Iraqi troops stormed the place to free the hostages.
Around 60 other people were wounded in the incident. The five hostage takers were also killed.