At least 51 arrested in Baghdad during 24 hours

Other News Materials 23 May 2008 04:57 (UTC +04:00)

Iraqi security forces arrested 51 suspects in throughout Baghdad and seized weapons as part of a stepped up effort to rid the Iraqi capital of illegal gunmen, Iraqi authorities said Thursday.

"Security forces dismantled several bombs and took over heavy artillery during its raids," a security forces statement said, according to the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency.

Authorities also reported that one policeman and two soldiers were killed during the last 24 hours.

In the north, authorities found the bodies of five individuals who appeared to have been executed in a village west Mosul, the capital of the Nineveh province, a police security source said Thursday.

The source told VOI that the bodies found were tied up and shot in the head. Mosul lies 405 kilometers north of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, US troops killed six suspected terrorists and two children in a vehicle near Bayji, 200 kilometers north of Baghdad, during a raid on al-Qaeda. An Iraqi security source in Salahaddin province told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that a US helicopter fired the lethal shots.

The US military said it fired three warning shots at the automobile to persuade the driver to stop, but when the passengers made threatening movements US forces opened fire.

There were also allegations that a US sniper shot dead an Iraqi cameraman Wednesday. Voices of Iraq identified the cameraman as Wissam Auda, a 32-year-old employee of the al-Afaq satellite channel.

The US military said it had not confirmed the incident and said steps are taken to protect civilians.

"Coalition forces only engage hostile threats and take every precaution to protect innocent civilians," a US military spokesman in Baghdad told dpa.

The death of the cameraman brings the total number of journalists killed in Iraq to 258 since the beginning of the war.