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3 HELD IN ANTIQUITIES SALES STING

Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD - Authorities in northern Iraq have arrested three men on charges they were trying to traffic stolen antiquities, including the bust of a Sumerian king, a local army commander said Saturday.

The three were arrested in a sting operation after attempting to sell an artifact for $160,000 to an undercover intelligence officer of the Iraqi Army's 12th Division in a village southwest of Kirkuk, division commander Maj. Gen. Abdul Amir al-Zaidi told reporters.

The sting, which took place around two weeks ago, was set up based on intelligence from local residents, he said.

"The duty of the Iraqi army is not only to chase the terrorists but also to protect state treasures," he said.

Authorities said the men had eight pieces from the Sumerian period, which dates from around 4000 to 2000 B.C., that they were trying to sell.

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