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U.S. cites drop in Iraq attacks

High-profile attacks in Iraq have fallen nearly 60 percent in the past year, the U.S. military said Sunday, though violence continues to plague the northern city of Mosul, where a suicide car bomber targeting an American convoy killed one Iraqi and wounded 45 others.

Mosul is considered the last urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq, and Sunday’s attack comes as military operations are being conducted there before a June 30 deadline for U.S. forces to pull out of Iraq’s cities.

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. David Perkins said Sunday that high-profile attacks – those involving a high number of casualties – have fallen 58 percent from last March and more than 50 percent from a month ago.

There were 28 high-profile attacks in April and 13 so far this month, Perkins said.

Kabul

Four al-Qaida suspects detained

U.S. coalition troops detained four suspected al-Qaida members during a raid in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, while a roadside bomb in the south killed a NATO service member, officials said.

The U.S.-led troops captured the four in the city of Khost, close to the border with Pakistan, the coalition said in a statement.

“The suspects are believed to be associated with an al-Qaida leader who has been responsible for recruiting Kuwaiti and Pakistani extremists for fighting in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

In southern Afghanistan, meanwhile, a roadside bomb killed a NATO service member Saturday, the military alliance said in a statement. It did not identify the victim’s nationality.

SEOUL, South Korea

North Korea says it tested nuke

North Korea said today it successfully carried out an underground nuclear test, weeks after threatening to restart its rogue atomic program.

The country’s official Korean Central News Agency called the test “part of measures to bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense.”

South Korea President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency security session. His spokesman, Lee Dong-kwan, confirmed that a nuclear test may have been carried out in the North.

Seismologists from the U.S., South Korea and Japan reported earthquakes in an northeastern area, where North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2006.

North Korea also carried out a nuclear test in October 2006 in Kilju, a test that drew sanctions from the United Nations and prompted five other nations to push negotiations on a nuclear disablement-for-aid pact with North Korea.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Andy Laine said the U.S. government had no confirmation of a new nuclear test.

“At this point we’ve seen the reports and we’re trying to get more information, but we’re not able to confirm at this time,” Laine said.

From wire reports

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