Iraqi police and soldiers have freed at least 40 students kidnapped by suspected members of Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda, Reuters reports. The young men had been seized by gunmen near Mosul in northern Iraq who set up a fake checkpoint and stopped two busloads of students returning to classes from a weekend break. One bus managed to escape but students were wounded by gunfire.
An Iraqi spokesman confirmed that security forces had rescued the students but did not release details of the operation. Sunni insurgents have regrouped recently in northern Iraq after being pushed out of Baghdad and Anbar province. Mosul is the group's last urban stronghold in Iraq, according to US commanders. American and Iraqi troops have been fighting a major offensive against insurgents in the city.