Iraq detains top police officer after bomb find

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BAGHDAD, Nov 11 (Reuters) The head of police intelligence in Iraq's Kerbala province has been detained after roadside bombs and other weapons were found in a raid on his house, a police spokesman said today.

Kerbala is home to one of the holiest cities in Shi'ite Islam and where Shi'ite factions are struggling for dominance.

The US military transferred security responsibility for the province to Iraqi authorities late last month.

Kerbala police spokesman Rahman Emshawi said acting on a tip-off, a police rapid reaction force raided the home of Lieutenant-Colonel Hashem Chalub last night and seized a quantity of weapons and explosives.

Chalub was later arrested at a restaurant and was now in police custody. A special committee, including representatives of the Ministry of Interior, had been set up to investigate the affair, Emshawi said.

Kerbala, the provincial capital and a centre of Shi'ite pilgrimage, is in Iraq's more stable Shi'ite south that has largely escaped the violence ravaging the rest of the country.

Analysts say rival Shi'ite factions are locked in an often violent struggle for political control. Tensions between local factions in Kerbala exploded into violence during a major festival in August and 52 people were killed.

REUTERS SBC HT2215

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