Iraqi ministry officials arrested
Twenty-three officials from Iraq's interior and defence ministries have been arrested on suspicion of being members of a banned Baathist party.
An interior ministry spokesman told the BBC that the arrested officials, who rank from lieutenant to brigadier general, were being questioned.
They are accused of belonging to al-Awda, "The Return", a descendant of Saddam Hussein's Baath party.
The Baath party was outlawed after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
It had ruled Iraq for more than three decades, mostly under Saddam Hussein.
Some of those arrested were from the interior ministry, which is responsible for policing and internal security, the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Baghdad says.
Others were from the defence ministry.
Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf says it is not clear whether those arrested were Sunni or Shia.
And, contrary to media reports, they are not suspected of plotting a coup or bribing others to join the party, he said.
The arrests come at a delicate time, just ahead of January's provincial elections, which Iraqis hope will pass off peacefully, our correspondent says.
But the political atmosphere is charged, with rumours of coup attempts and conspiracies rife in Baghdad in the run-up to the elections, she adds.