Border police, members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), detained some people suspected of having ties to the al-Ansar al-Islam group, Kurdish sources told our correspondent on Monday.

US officials accuse al-Ansar al-Islam of being behind last week’s attacks against Amman’s mission in central Baghdad which left 11 people killed and dozens others wounded. No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Washington, which lists al-Ansar al-Islam as a “terrorist” organisation, claims the group has links to al-Qaeda and accuses it of trying to establish chemical facilities in northern, mainly Kurdish Iraq along the Iranian border where they were based before the US war. 

During the war there bases were attacked and dozens of their members were killed.

Raids continue

Ousted Iraqi President Hussein's
whereabouts are a mystery

Meanwhile, US occupation forces continued sweeps near ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit overnight, detaining at least seven people including a suspected financer of anti-occupation attacks.

US officials say financers are key links to the resistance, claiming it lures “foot soldiers”.

Objective Taco Bell, as the mission was named, had one primary target but American military officials said the main was probably not among those detained.

A total of 73 people were rounded up and questioned before being released. No large money or weapons caches were found in the raids.

Occupation forces patrolling central Tikrit came under rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack late on Monday but caused no casualties, said military officials.

Other forces reported witnessing a second RPG attack overnight but claimed it was internal Iraqi violence.

Two mortar rounds were also fired at a US army base but landed harmlessly next to it.