Seven US marines among 10 killed in Fallujah car blast
* Iraq government retracts claim that top Saddam aide arrested
FALLUJAH: A car bomb blast near Fallujah on Monday killed seven American marines and three Iraqi National Guardsmen, the US military said.
A military official said the blast destroyed a US vehicle on the outskirts of Fallujah, 50 kilometres west of Baghdad.
It was the largest US death toll from a single attack for five months. The Iraqi government said on Monday it had not captured the most wanted Saddam Hussein aide still on the run, in an embarrassing climb down a day after top officials reported he had been seized in a raid by Iraqi forces. The government’s statement that it had not seized Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was sixth on a US list of the 55 most wanted members of Saddam’s regime and had a $10 million price on his head, came after 24 hours of confusion.
The Interior Ministry said tests had showed that a man in Iraqi custody was not Ibrahim. “The person that has been arrested, after appropriate medical tests, was not Ibrahim but somebody related to him, who is also wanted by the state,” the ministry said. There was no immediate explanation from the government on how so many top officials had been so wrong on the reported capture.
Iraqi forces backed by US troops swept through the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk overnight and arrested about 25 suspects, including a fugitive security chief under the former regime, police said.
“Elements from the national guard and police, backed by US troops, raided a number of houses after receiving information about some terrorist elements and we arrested 25 suspects,” said Kirkuk police chief Turhan Yusef.
Another police officer said Iraqi forces had also arrested Sirhan Ahmed Khalaf, the head of security in the restive city of Samarra under the former regime of Saddam Hussein. “He was from Samarra but came to Kirkuk to hide.
A pipeline supplying gas to a major electrical plant south of Kirkuk was attacked, said a local police official. “This morning at 11:25am, unidentified attackers set fire to a gas pipeline in the Taza region” near Kirkuk, said police Colonel Ali Mustashar al-Obeidi.
Iraqi security forces were surrounding the office of rebel cleric Moqtada Sadr in Najaf, said one of Sadr’s aides. “The Iraqi national guard and police forces have encircled the office since this morning and are attempting to raid it,” said Sheikh Shaibani. He said Sadr officials had prevented Iraqi forces from entering the premises and are demanding an authorisation signed by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani before they will allow the office to be searched.
Insurgents shot down an unmanned aircraft in Fallujah late Monday night, an AFP correspondent reported. The drone, used to survey the city where US forces have seldom tread since an April assault on the rebel enclave, was being paraded through the streets on a pick-up truck. The US military had no immediate confirmation. agencies