Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. soldiers, stormed one of the major Sunni Muslim mosques in Baghdad after Friday prayers, opening fire and killing at least three people, witnesses said. In the battle for control of Mosul, Iraqi forces raided several areas overnight, killing 15 insurgents, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.Insurgents should not be permitted sanctuaries anywhere.
At least 13 other insurgents were captured in Mosul, authorities said.
About 40 people were arrested at the Abu Hanifa mosque in the capital's northwestern Azamiyah neighborhood, said the witnesses, who were members of the congregation. Another five people were wounded.
It appeared the raid at Abu Hanifa mosque, long associated with anti-American activity, was part of the crackdown on Sunni clerical militants launched in parallel with military operations against the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
On Thursday, the Iraqi government warned that Islamic clerics who incite violence will be considered as "participating in terrorism." A number of them already have been arrested, including several members of the Sunni clerical Association of Muslim Scholars, which spoke out against the U.S.-led offensive against Fallujah.
"The government is determined to pursue those who incite acts of violence. A number of mosques' clerics who have publicly called for taking the path of violence have been arrested and will be legally tried," said Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's spokesman, Thair al-Naqeeb.