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Iraqis take on al-Qaida in 2 cities

Truck bomb leaves 19 dead in latest round of bloodshed

Posted: January 3, 2014 at 2:33 a.m.

Iraqi federal policemen stand guard at a checkpoint in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The Iraqi government has tightened its security measures after security forces have arrested, Wathiq al-Batat, a controversial Shiite cleric who leads an Iranian-backed militia called Mukhtar Army. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen battled Thursday to put down al-Qaida-linked gunmen who, in a coordinated surge, ran rampant in two of the country’s main Sunni cities, overrunning police stations and sweeping through the streets, emboldened by mounting sectarian tensions between minority Sunnis and the Shiite-led government.

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Front Section, Pages 6 on 01/03/2014

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Beirut blast kills five in Hezbollah area

Lebanese citizens gather at the site of a car bomb explosion in a stronghold of the Shiite Hezbollah group at the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. A large explosion took place during rush hour in the Haret Hreik neighborhood. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

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