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13:21, 27 June 2017 Tuesday
Update: 09:11, 06 April 2014 Sunday

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At least 20 Iraqi soldiers killed in attacks
At least 20 Iraqi soldiers killed in attacks
File Photo

The army moved in after militants retreated, but when they entered the house, a powerful blast tore through the building

World Bulletin/News Desk

At least 20 Iraqi soldiers were killed on Saturday, most of them upon entering a house rigged with explosives northwest of the capital, security officials said.

Militants last week overran the house in the town of Garma, 30 km (20 miles) northwest of Baghdad, which had previously been used as an army post, officials said.

The army moved in on Saturday morning after militants retreated, but when they entered the house, a powerful blast tore through the building, two security officials said.

The identity of the attackers was not clear.

Ongoing violence has raised doubts parliamentary elections can be held nationwide later this month as intended.

Also in Garma, two government-backed Sunni militia fighters were killed when a mortar hit their post, security officials said.

Separately, three soldiers were killed and six wounded when a roadside bomb struck their patrol in Mishahda to the north of Baghdad, police and medical sources said.

An army colonel and three soldiers were also killed in an attack on their patrol in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.

Of the 592 Iraqis killed in acts of violence in March, 108 were members of the security forces, according to figures published by the United Nations.



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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.