Violence flares in Iraq, female al-Qaeda suspect held

Other News Materials 14 February 2008 17:32 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - A fresh outbreak of violence in Iraq on Thursday left 22 people dead and 14 injured, including an attack on a family in the native village of former President Saddam Hussein and a shootout involving US forces, while a female suspected member of al- Qaeda was captured.

Nine people from the same family were shot dead in the village of Ouja north of Baghdad, police said.

Gunmen stormed in the early hours of Thursday the home of a building contractor and killed him and his wife and children, police sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Ouja, 180 kilometres north of Baghdad, is near Tikrit, home to Saddam's Bijat clan, which the slain family belonged to.

Also in Tikrit, a US unit killed two women and six members of the local tribal force known as the Awakening Council in a shootout in the village of Sheikh Abdullah, police said. At least 14 people were also arrested.

The incident appeared to have occurred while a US airlift and troop deployment were being conducted in the area. The US force ran into members of the Awakening Council and both got engaged in a shootout.

No further details were available about whether the airlift and deployment were linked to the shootout incident.

Members of the Awakening Councils, which are recruited and funded by the US military in Sunni Arab areas, have contributed to a decrease in violence in Iraq. Some of them are former insurgents.

In Baghdad, at least five people were killed and 25 injured in a minibus bomb blast near a market in the Shiite-dominated al-Sadr district, police told the Voices of Iraq VOI news agency.

The Kia minibus was parked on a road in al-Muridi popular market.

Separately, police arrested a woman suspected to be a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network in al-Jihad district west of Baghdad, VOI cited police sources as saying.

In the south of Iraq, a Shiite group loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said it was still negotiating to secure the release of a CBS British journalist a day after his Iraqi interpreter was freed.

Emad Khudair, who had been kidnapped with the journalist from a hotel in Basra on Sunday evening, was handed over to a judge from the Iraqi federal court Wednesday.

Basra police chief, General Abdel Jalil Khalaf, said he was not involved in the negotiations.

British and Iraqi troops have been carrying out search operations on the outskirts of Basra since Monday.

Meanwhile heavy fighting broke out Thursday in Basra between the Iraqi army and gunmen believed to be from a Shiite cult, leaving two soldiers injured.

Clashes erupted between Iraqi troops and suspected members of the Ahmed al-Yamani group in the Jenina district of Basra in the wake of a bomb explosion, police sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

A deadly confrontation in January between Iraqi security forces and the followers of the mysterious cult, who believe in the return of a hidden imam, left at least 40 people dead and 60 injured. Some 300 people were also arrested.