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Mideast edition, Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An Iraqi man attending a “concerned citizens” meeting is being credited with saving the lives of four U.S. soldiers and several Iraqi civilians by stopping a suicide bomber.

According to U.S. military officials, the incident happened over the weekend in the town of Arafia, near Baghdad, where soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment were meeting with a citizens group at a group member’s home.

“I was about 12 feet away when the bomber came around the corner,” Staff Sgt. Sean Kane was quoted as saying in a U.S. military news release. “I was about to engage when he jumped in front of us and intercepted the bomber as he ran toward us. As he pushed him away, the bomb went off.”

The man who intercepted the bomber was killed. Neither his name nor other details about him were released.

“I have no doubt the bomber was trying to kill American soldiers. It was very calculated the way the bomber tried to do it. If he hadn’t intercepted [the bomber], there is no telling how bad it could have been,” Kane said.

“He could have run behind us or away from us, but he made the decision to sacrifice himself to protect everyone.”

According to U.S. officials, the man’s father was also part of the citizens group.

Later that night, officials said, the group tipped Iraqi police about an alleged al-Qaida in Iraq cell. The police conducted a raid that ended with four arrests.

The citizens group is among initiatives by U.S. units across Iraq to bring sometimes-armed groups of civilians into the fight against both Sunni and Shiite militant groups.

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