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The attacker was said to have been driving around with a lorry full of fruit injected with a toxic substance.
Posing as a farmer, he had apparently been stopping at checkpoints south of Mosul, presenting the watermelons as gifts to thirsty soldiers.
Police say he was caught in the act after men who ate the melons fell ill.
They were able to call ahead to checkpoints further along the road to make sure the man was detained.