News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqFive Iraqi soldiers seized in border clash with Iran

Five Iraqi soldiers seized in border clash with Iran

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Washington Post: The Iranian military seized five Iraqi soldiers after a cross-border skirmish Thursday, Iraqi authorities said Friday. Washington Post

Patrol Was Probing Reports of Iranians Crossing Into Iraq

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 9, 2006; Page A12

BAGHDAD, Sept. 8 — The Iranian military seized five Iraqi soldiers after a cross-border skirmish Thursday, Iraqi authorities said Friday.

The captured troops were part of a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol that trekked on Thursday afternoon to a border post near Mandali, a town of 13,000 located about 75 miles northeast of Baghdad, to investigate reports that a large number of Iranians were crossing into Iraq there, according to Brig. Gen. Subhi Bairam, commander of the Mandali police.

Iranian forces opened fire when the patrol moved within about 50 yards of the border, Bairam said. The patrol returned fire and then retreated from the scene. Back in Mandali, patrol members realized that five soldiers and the vehicle they were in had been captured by the Iranians.

The Iranian military said it arrested the troops for “infiltrating the Iranian soil,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Iran also said it had arrested seven soldiers, not five.

The announcement of the capture came as sectarian violence continued to roil Iraq.

Three Shiite Muslim pilgrims were killed and two were wounded by mortar fire in Musayyib, south of Baghdad, as they marched to a major religious celebration in the holy city of Karbala, according to Capt. Muthanna Ahmed of the Babil provincial police. More than a million pilgrims are expected to gather in Karbala on Saturday for the Shabaniya holiday, which commemorates the birth of one of Shiite Islam’s most revered religious figures.

In Baghdad, bombs killed four people and wounded five in separate attacks on police patrols in the eastern part of the city, according to Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Muhammad of the Interior Ministry. At least 11 other people were killed in other attacks across the country, police said.

The U.S. military also announced that an American soldier was killed early Friday when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad. No other details were released.

Special correspondent Saad Sarhan in Karbala and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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