Iraqi forces kill three in raid on mosque

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Iraqi forces, backed by US soldiers, stormed one of the main Sunni mosques in Baghdad after Friday prayers, opening fire and killing at least three people, witnesses said. In Mosul, the battle for control of the city continued with Iraqi forces killing 15 insurgents, Iraqi and US military officials said. At least 13 other insurgents were captured.

Iraqi forces, backed by US soldiers, stormed one of the main Sunni mosques in Baghdad after Friday prayers, opening fire and killing at least three people, witnesses said. In Mosul, the battle for control of the city continued with Iraqi forces killing 15 insurgents, Iraqi and US military officials said. At least 13 other insurgents were captured.

About 40 people were arrested at the Abu Hanifa mosque in Baghdad's north-western suburb of Azamiyah, members of the congregation said. Five people were wounded.

The raid appeared to be part of a crackdown on militant Sunni clerics launched alongside the attack on Fallujah.

On Thursday, the Iraqi government warned that clerics who incite violence will be considered as "participating in terrorism". A number of them have already been arrested, including several members of the Association of Muslim Scholars, which spoke out against the offensive against Fallujah.

American troops also raided a Sunni mosque in the town of Qaim, near the Syrian border, a cleric said.

At the Abu Hanifa mosque, US troops were seen securing the outer perimeter and sealing it off. Some American soldiers were seen within the compound. Inside the office of the imam, books, including a Koran, and a computer were found scattered on the floor.

The mosque has long been associated with anti-American agitation. Saddam Hussein was seen in the area as the city fell in April last year, and US Marines fought Saddam loyalists around the mosque on 10 April, the day after the ousted ruler's statue was hauled down in Firdous Square.

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