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Senior Official at Iraq Ministry of Health Detained; 13 Terrorists Killed

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2007 – Coalition forces captured a Ministry of Health senior official, killed 20 terrorists and detained five others in operations around Iraq over the past two days.

At a Ministry of Health office in the Rusafa district of Baghdad today, special Iraqi army forces captured a senior official with alleged ties to the Jaysh al-Mahdi militia. The suspect is connected to the deaths of several other Ministry of Health officials, including the ministry’s director general in Diyala province, military officials said.

The suspect reportedly orchestrated several kickback schemes by using inflated contracts for ministry equipment and services. These kickbacks, which officials believe have funneled millions of U.S. dollars to miitia elements, support sectarian attacks and violence targeting Iraqi civilians, U.S. officials said.

The suspect is believed to support the Jaysh al-Mahdi militia through large-scale employment of its members. He also has been accused of openly intimidating and threatening ministry officials who disagree with him and question his actions.

Elsewhere in Iraq today, coalition forces killed an estimated 13 terrorists northeast of Amiriya during an air strike targeting a senior foreign-fighter facilitator. During the operation, coalition forces detained five suspected terrorists and found a cache containing armor-piercing ammunition.

Yesterday in Iraq, coalition forces conducted an air strike near Arab Jabour, killing seven al Qaeda in Iraq network members responsible for vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices, military officials said. The network allegedly is responsible for numerous improvised explosive device attacks in the Baghdad area and for sniper attacks against Iraqi army elements, coalition forces and Iraqi civilians.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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