( dpa ) - Iraqi and US forces launched security offensives against insurgents of the al-Qaeda terrorist network across northern Iraq, which led to the arrest of 27 suspects and the discovery of explosives, US and Iraqi military said Monday.
US-led coalition forces detained 18 terror suspects Sunday and Monday during operations targeting al-Qaeda insurgents in Tikrit, Baquba and Mosul, according to a US military statement.
The three cities are hotbeds of Sunni insurgency. While some insurgents are loyal to al-Qaeda, others are funded by ex-members of the Bath Party of former President Saddam Hussein.
A major security offensive launched in Baghdad and surrounding areas over a year ago has led insurgents to flee those areas and regroup in provinces of northern Iraq.
Among the detainees captured by the coalition forces east of Tikrit near the Hamrin Mountains is an alleged member of the al-Qaeda in Iraq group, who worked as an interrogator at a terrorist-run prison in the region, the US military said.
In an operation in Mosul in Nineveh province, a leading al-Qaeda suspect was held. The city, 40 kilometres north of Baghdad, has seen a recent surge in violence. On Wednesday, a massive blast left at least 38 people dead at a block of flats.
A day later, the province police chief was killed by a suicide bomber while he was inspecting the scene of the blast.
The attacks prompted the government of Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki to send military reinforcements to Mosul for what he called a decisive battle against al-Qaeda.
West of Mosul, police found 1.5 tons of TNT explosives in a deserted house in Talafar, the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency quoted a local police chief as saying.
In the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a joint US-Iraqi force arrested seven terror suspects in a raid in the nearby village of Safra. Weapons were seized during the operation.
In Baghdad, two people were killed and five injured by a bomb targeting a police patrol in Ghadir district, south-east of the city, VOI reported.
Further south in Basra, a bomb blast on a motorway claimed the lives of two Arab nationals, who worked as guards for a foreign firm involved in transporting power plants components from Kuwait to Iraq, police told VOI.
A big fire ripped through Iraq's central bank building in Baghdad in the early hours on Monday, causing material damages, police said.
The fire erupted in three floors of the bank's building on Rashid road in the centre of Baghdad, a security sources told VOI.
Firefighters had extinguished the blaze, which has left no casualties. The government has opened an immediate into the cause of the blaze.