MADAEN, Iraq — Hundreds of Iraqi security troops found no hostages here Monday despite reports that Sunni insurgents might have kidnapped as many as 100 Shiites.
Sunni leaders dismissed the reports of a hostage crisis as a hoax.
The Iraqi troops fanned through Madaen's dusty streets and took positions on rooftops.
National Security Minister Kasim Daoud said Iraqi forces had discovered mines, ammunition and bomb-making equipment along with six completed car bombs.
"The city is now under full control," interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's office said, adding that 10 suspected insurgents had been arrested.
Those detained included four "sword men" believed to have conducted killings for the insurgents, national security advisor Mowaffak Rubaie said. Holding cells had also been found, he said.
The U.S. military, whose forces only stood by in case they were needed, called the operation in Madaen a significant step forward in the training of Iraqi forces.
Shiite leaders and government officials initially claimed that Sunni militants had captured up to 100 Shiites in and around Madaen last week and were threatening to kill them unless all Shiites left the area.
Over the weekend, Iraqi police and military circled the town and raided suspected hide-outs.
By Monday, however, Iraqi officials had produced no hostages, and some observers were saying the number taken had been exaggerated for political purposes.
Madaen residents; the Assn. of Muslim Scholars, an organization of Sunni clerics; and Al Qaeda in Iraq denied that any hostages had been taken.
On Monday, about 150 Shiites from Hurriya village near here staged a protest in Baghdad, weeping and holding photos of 18 men and boys who they said had been missing for about 10 days.
Madaen is an agricultural town of about 1,000 families south of Baghdad, split between Shiites and Sunnis.
It sits at the northern edge of a region considered to be a stronghold of the insurgency.