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7 Suicide Cars Found in Iraq Mosque

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A mosque raided by security forces in southern Baghdad contained a workshop to rig suicide car bombs, with seven vehicles ready for terror attacks, an Iraqi Defense Ministry official said Sunday.

National Guard forces raided the Sunni Muslim Al-Yassen Mosque in the Baghdad area of Abu Dshir on Saturday, said Gen. Saleh Sarhan. In addition to the seven cars, guardsmen found 30 rocket-propelled grenades, high-powered rifles, mortars and remote control detonators, Sarhan said.

He said the mosque leader and 18 other people were detained.

Anti-U.S. guerrillas used about 60 mosques in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, to stockpile weapons and provide cover during a U.S.-led offensive in the city earlier this month, the U.S. military said. One of the mosques was described as a general arms depot capable of equipping guerrillas across much of Iraq.

In Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, a car bomb killed six people aboard a bus Sunday.

Another car bomb exploded on a road leading to Baghdad's airport, wounding two U.S. soldiers and damaging a military vehicle, a military statement said.

A blast on the same stretch of road Saturday damaged two military buses. There were no injuries.

MOSUL VIOLENCE: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror group claimed responsibility Sunday for killing members of Iraq's security forces in Mosul, where dozens of bodies have been found.

A statement posted on a Web site in the name of Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing 17 members of Iraq's security forces and a Kurdish militiaman in Mosul, where insurgents rose up this month in support of guerrillas facing the U.S.-led assault in Fallujah.

The claim could not be independently verified.

The United States has offered a $25-million reward for al-Zarqawi's capture.

At least 50 people have been killed in Mosul in the past 10 days. Most of the victims are believed to have been supporters of Iraq's interim government or members of its fledgling security forces.

At least 43 suspected guerrillas have been arrested in an operation to reestablish control of Mosul, a U.S. military statement said.

ELECTION WATCH: In Cairo, Egypt, the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, said Arab governments want to see the Iraqi leadership take steps toward national reconciliation between Iraqi Sunnis and the majority Shi'ites before Jan. 30 balloting "because it is important to have a successful election."

Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, said sticking to the Jan. 30 date would be a challenge, but delaying it would bolster the insurgents' cause.

MILITARY ACTION: U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 17 suspected guerrillas in raids south of Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi police said. Operations included a dawn speedboat assault on insurgent hideouts.

By Omar Jassim
Knight Ridder Newspapers

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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