Seven killed in Iraq blasts as al-Qaeda suspects captured

Four bombs in Baghdad Wednesday killed seven people and injured 26 while the US military captured in separate raids a suspected Iranian-backed bomb expert and nine suspected al- Qaeda in Iraq members, including a leader of an extremist court, reported dpa.

A bomb blast on a minibus in north Baghdad killed five with 10 others were injured.

A roadside bomb went off hitting the minibus in the Shiite- dominated Kazimiyah district in north Baghdad, police sources told the Voice of Iraq news agency.

Three other attacks occurred across the Iraqi capital, police said.

One civilian was killed and seven others were injured when a bomb went off in the Camp Sara area in east Baghdad while another bomb was detonated near a gas station in the bank district, injuring two civilians.

In another incident, one person was killed and seven people were injured when a bomb exploded in Karada district in the centre of the city.

The US military said it arrested on Wednesday a suspected special group explosives expert in Numaniyah, 180 kilometres south-east of Baghdad near the city of Kut.

The military uses the term "special groups" to describe Shiite fighters breaching a truce order issued by radical cleric Moqtada al- Sadr, whose militia fought Iraqi and US troops for months until the truce was reached in May.

Acting on intelligence from other Shiite militiamen already in detention, US soldiers captured the expert, who is believed to have travelled to Iran several times for training, according to a military statement.

Troops entered the suspect's home and subdued him without firing any shots, according to the statement.

The Iranian government denies long-standing US allegations that Tehran arms, funds and trains Shiite militiamen in Iraq.

In a separate statement, the US military said it held the suspected leader of a court system set up by the al-Qaeda in Iraq group, designed to impose extremist ideology on Iraqis in northern Iraq.

The alleged leader of the extremist court was captured during an operation mounted by US forces in the northern city of Mosul, the statement said.

Intelligence received from insurgents in custody indicated that the man has connections with senior members of the al-Qaeda in Iraq group in Mosul, about 400 kilometres north of Baghdad, according to the statement.

The al-Qaeda in Iraq group, which also calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq, espouses a radical from of Islam and tries to impose a strict version of Islamic law in enclaves under its control in Sunni- dominated areas.

Eight other suspected members of al-Qaeda in Iraq were captured in separate raids in northern Iraq on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a separate statement, the US military said 506 insurgents have surrendered since May 22 in Balad in central Iraq and reconciled with the Iraqi government.

The former fighters have already led security forces to various weapon caches, which contained rockets, artillery rounds, ammunition and rifles.

"Those who choose to reconcile must sign a ceasefire agreement and if they face criminal charges, they must stand before the Iraqi court system before being fully reintegrated into civil society," the statement said.

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