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Awakening Council, Iraqi security exchange gunfire

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  • Iraqi security forces arrested leader of Awakening Council, sparking a fight
  • Gunfire was exchanged between troops and council members, Iraqi military says
  • Awakening groups include former insurgents who have turned against al Qaeda
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces and Awakening Council members clashed Saturday in Baghdad, leaving two civilians dead, 13 other people wounded, and five Iraqi soldiers kidnapped, a military official told CNN.

An Iraqi soldier mans a checkpoint as Iraqi troops battle Awakening Council members in Baghdad on Saturday.

An Iraqi soldier mans a checkpoint as Iraqi troops battle Awakening Council members in Baghdad on Saturday.

The incident started after Adel al-Mashhadani -- the leader of the Fadhil Awakening Council in northern Baghdad -- and an aide were arrested by members of the Iraqi army and U.S. military, said Qassim Atta of the Baghdad military command.

Atta said that council members opened fire on Iraqi security forces after the arrest and security forces fired back. The 13 wounded included four soldiers. Authorities said council members kidnapped the five soldiers.

Fadhil is a poor, predominantly Sunni neighborhood in northern Baghdad.

Awakening groups, also known as Sons of Iraq, are primarily a Sunni movement composed of former insurgents or sympathizers who have turned against al Qaeda.

The U.S. military credits them with having played a key role in bringing about the nationwide drop in violence that coincided with the "surge" in U.S. forces in Iraq.

Atta said the Central Criminal Court had issued arrest warrants for al-Mashhadani and his aide, but he didn't say why they were detained.

Al-Mashhadani is accused of leading an armed military group associated with the Baath party, he said, and will be tried for allegedly committing murder and other crimes against civilians.

In another part of Iraq on Sunday, a road blast in southern Basra killed five civilians and wounded six others, an Iraqi army official said.

The blast occurred near a police patrol in the city, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Baghdad.


Meanwhile, a second roadside bomb -- also targeting a police patrol -- wounded eight officers in northern Iraq.

The explosion took place on a street in central Kirkuk. The multiethnic city is about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad.

Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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