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ARLINGTON, Va. — A Marine is under investigation in connection with the stabbing death Monday of an Iraqi police officer north of Ramadi, according to Multi-National Force — West.

The New York Times first reported Thursday that the Marine allegedly stabbed the Iraqi police officer during a knife fight at a Joint Security Station north of Ramadi.

“The investigation is in the initial stages; however, the incident appears to have resulted from an argument escalating into a physical altercation,” said MNF-W spokesman Maj. Jeff Pool.

Both the Marine and Iraqi police officer received cuts in the fight, Pool said in an e-mailed response to questions on Thursday. The police officer died from his wounds and his body was returned to his family.

Pool declined to identify the Marine, who was treated at a military hospital.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents are investigating the incident, and the Marine has not been charged in connection with the stabbing, Pool said.

Iraqi and coalition leaders discussed the incident on Wednesday at a meeting in Ramadi, Pool said.

“Both the Iraqi and Coalition Force leaders regret this incident and are working to assure incidents such as this do not occur in the future,” he said. “Coalition Forces are currently partnered with approximately 44,000 Iraqi Security Forces across the Al Anbar province.”

The alliance between local Sunnis in Anbar province and U.S. troops has proved vital in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Attacks against U.S. troops in Anbar province have dropped for the past 10 months, the commander of U.S. troops in the province told reporters earlier this month.

In the first week of December, coalition forces in Anbar province suffered 40 attacks, compared with 460 attacks in the same time period in 2006, said Marine Maj. Gen. W.E. Gaskin.

Meanwhile, roadside bomb attacks in Anbar province dropped 91 percent between January and November, according to the most recent quarterly report on progress in Iraq.

The report credits local sheiks for successfully opposing al-Qaida.


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