( dpa ) - US air strikes hit Thursday targets of the al- Qaeda terrorist network in Baghdad, while five people were killed and 11 injured in the latest attacks around the country.
In the Arab al-Jabor area of southern Baghdad, US air forces dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives during the first 10 minutes of the massive raid targeting more than 40 havens of al-Qaeda, a US military statement said.
The strikes provided air support to a nationwide offensive launched jointly with Iraqi forces against al-Qaeda insurgents under the codename Operation Phantom Phoenix. No details were immediately available as to possible casualties or damage inflicted. US soldiers along with Iraqi security forces and local citizens will continue such operations to keep pressure on al-Qaeda, the statement said.
Separately, an explosive device was detonated, in the crowded Saadon area of the capital, killing two policmemen and injuring dozens of army personnel, the Iraqi news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI)said.
Those killed and wounded were gathering to investigate an explosion in a vehicle that occurred a few minutes previously. There were no reports of deaths as a result of that explosion.
In Kirkuk, some 250 kilometres north of Baghdad, two Iraqi soldiers were killed and another was wounded by a bomb, where security was tightened a day after two churches were attacked, security sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"A bomb went off Thursday morning, hitting an Iraqi army patrol in Rashad, in southern Kirkuk, killing two soldiers and injuring an officer," a police official told dpa.
Joint US-Iraqi forces detained nine suspects,and confiscated a weapon cache during a 17-hour military operation in the Jinjal village, some 110 kilometers south of Kirkuk, sources said.
Security was tightened around the city's nine churches in the wake of two car bomb attacks on two churches on Wednesday evening.
The first car bomb hit the Syrian Orthodox church in central Kirkuk while the second went off a few minutes later near the Chaldean cathedral also in the centre of the city, 250 kilometres north-east of Baghdad.
In another incident, three leaders of the government-backed Awakening council were detained in the Iraqi province of Diyala for engaging in acts of killings and kidnappings, VOI reported.
The so-called Awakening Council was set up in restive Sunni areas by local clans to fight insurgent groups that are often linked with al-Qaeda.
The local agency has also reported that US forces have detained a tribal Sheikh and five of his sons in the Iraqi province of Anbar without any reason.
The detention came during a US military operation that was launched in the early hours of Thursday in the Madeeq area two kiolmetres west of the province.
In other news, security forces have arrested at least 30 suspects in Iraq's capital, as part of a large scale security crackdown that was enforced in the country in February 2006, VOI said.
Sources also told VOI that militants killed a security guard of Iraq's health ministry in southern Baghdad.
Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Boulany announced that on January 9, the Iraqi forces have arrested a gang, whom he described as "big and dangerous," that was targeting Iraq's prominent professors, doctors and cholars.