Troops from the Ground Self-Defense Force preparing to pull out of the southern Iraq city of Samawah were not affected by explosions reported in the city, Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga said Tuesday.

“We are aware of the news reports and are now trying to verify them, but there has been no effect on our Self-Defense Forces unit, either in terms of personnel or equipment,” Nukaga said at a news conference in Tokyo.

Loud explosions were heard Sunday near the British-Australian base in the suburbs of Samawah. More blasts took place Monday at a Sunni Muslim mosque and in the city center at the home of a member of the Al-Muthanna provincial assembly. There were no reports of injuries from the explosions.

Japanese troops have been in Samawah since early 2004 on a reconstruction mission.

The government announced the decision to withdraw after the Iraqi government said it would take over security duties from British and Australian troops in Al-Muthanna Province later this month. Samawah is the provincial capital.

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