INTERNATIONAL

12 die in Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD: Eleven detenus escaped on Saturday from the U.S. military's largest detention centre in Iraq as a dozen Iraqis died in militant attacks, including the bombing of a restaurant favoured by policemen and a suicide car bomb explosion near a U.S. military convoy near the capital.

Police arrested Dia'a al-Jewari, a cleric in the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, at a mosque in eastern Baghdad on suspected links with militant groups.

In the central Iraqi town of Madain, Sunni militants seized a number of Shia hostages and are threatening to kill them unless all Shia leave, Government officials said on Saturday.

``There were about 100 masked men, riding in cars, roaming the city. They took hostages from the Shia youth and old men, and demanded the Shias leave the city,'' the spokesman said.

A Defence Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least 70 persons had been taken hostage in the town and that Iraqi security forces were surrounding the area, trying to contain the situation.

At Camp Bucca — the largest U.S. detention facility with about 6,000 prisoners — 11 detenus escaped early on Saturday, but 10 were later captured, the U.S. military and Iraqi police said. One of the escapees told the Associated Press the group escaped through a hole in the fence. ``We decided to flee the prison because of the bad treatment and delay in investigations,'' 24-year-old Hussein Nima said.

Blast in restaurant

In Baqouba, a bomb exploded on Saturday inside a restaurant often used by Iraqi police, killing five policemen and two civilians. The blast, which also wounded one civilian, heavily damaged the restaurant.

In an attack in the northern city of Kirkuk, militants killed three members of Iraq's security forces, firing from speeding vehicles on soldiers and policemen, police said. Gunmen killed a policeman and two soldiers as they headed to work. In Baghdad, an attack by a suicide car bomber on the road near the airport killed the assailant and one Iraqi civilian. — AP

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