By Melinda L. Larson
American Forces Press Service
April 8, 2007 – Four Task Force Lightning soldiers were killed and one wounded Saturday as a result of an explosion near their vehicle in Iraq's Diyala Province, defense officials said. In other news, coalition forces captured a senior al-Qaeda leader and two others during raid Sunday morning in Baghdad.
Coalition forces identified the man as the gatekeeper to the al-Qaeda emir of Baghdad. He has alleged ties to several senior al-Qaeda members and is reportedly linked to a number of mass casualty, vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks in the Baghdad area.
He was detained along with another known al-Qaeda VBIED cell leader and one other suspect.
"This is a significant step in our efforts to disrupt the VBIED network and their devastating attacks against the Iraqi people," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.
Meanwhile, soldiers from the Iraqi Army and coalition forces from Multinational Division Center South and Multinational Division Baghdad entered their third day of fighting today against illegally-armed militia in Diwanuyah.
Operation Black Eagle netted 39 militia members and large caches of weapons including several explosively formed projectiles and IED-making factories, according to military officials.
"So far we have achieved great success fighting the terrorists," said Maj. Gen. Oothman Faroudm, commander of the 8th Iraqi Army Division, which is leading the assault. "We have freed the people of Diwaniyah from the murder and intimidation that has plagued the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week for months."
On Saturday, paratroopers from Troop A, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, detained three known insurgents south of Baghdad, according to military officials.
The coalition forces discovered the suspects while performing a reconnaissance of an area north of Mahmudiyah. According to military officials, two of the detainees were positively identified as individuals involved in the shooting of two paratroopers April 3 that killed one and wounded the other.
The third detainee is linked with a known IED production cell near Hawr Rajab, Iraq. One AK-47 with an empty bandolier was also confiscated.
(Compiled from Multinational Force and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)
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