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[casi] Bravery knows no limits: women as hostages!

U.S. Arrests Wife of Saddam Deputy

By NIKO PRICE, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. troops arrested the wife and
daughter of a top Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)
deputy suspected of masterminding attacks on U.S.
troops, and a major pipeline linking northern Iraqi
oilfields to the country's biggest refinery was ablaze

Hours after large explosions shook the center of
Baghdad near U.S. headquarters, the visiting British
foreign secretary said Iraq (news - web sites) will be
a safer place once the U.S.- and British-led coalition
hands over power to an Iraqi government.

Troops of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division in Samarra,
70 miles north of Baghdad, arrested the wife and
daughter of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a top Saddam
associate, division spokesman Lt. Col. William
MacDonald said Wednesday.

Under Saddam, al-Douri was vice chairman of the ruling
Revolutionary Command Council, and shortly before the
war began March 20, Saddam placed him in charge of
defenses in northern Iraq.

U.S. officials have said they believe al-Douri has
planned some of the attacks against U.S. forces, and
last week offered a $10 million reward for information
leading to his capture. Al-Douri is No. 6 on the list
of 55 most-wanted Iraqis.

MacDonald said a man he identified as the son of a
physician was also taken into custody in the raid
Tuesday. He had no further information about the man.

In London, the former chief of Iraq's interim
administration, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, said in
an interview broadcast Wednesday on British
Broadcasting Corp. radio that the U.S.-led coalition
made mistakes after it took control of Baghdad.

Garner, who was replaced by L. Paul Bremer after less
than a month in the job, said he could have done
better at communicating with the Iraqi people. He also
said the coalition should have moved more quickly to
establish a government in Iraq and put more troops in
Baghdad, including more infantry.

"If we did it over again, we probably would have put
more dismounted infantrymen in Baghdad and maybe more
troops there," Garner said, when asked what the
biggest mistakes of the occupation had been.

Witnesses near the village of Sharqat, 170 miles north
of Baghdad, said sheets of flame and thick black smoke
were shooting from the damaged pipeline, only 30 miles
from Iraq's largest oil refinery.

There was no immediate explanation for the cause of
the blaze, but guerrillas have repeatedly attacked
pipelines in the general area. The attacks have
complicated efforts to revive Iraq's giant petroleum
industry, the key to its economic recovery.

Iraq has the second-largest proven petroleum reserves
in OPEC (news - web sites). But many companies are
holding back until they see an improvement in security
against attacks by militants opposed to American
troops and the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, on a two-day
visit to Iraq, said a political transition to Iraqi
rule will improve the security situation. More than
five dozen U.S. troops have been killed by hostile
fire in November, more than any other month since the
official end of major combat in Iraq on May 1.

"I'm absolutely sure that a more rapid political
process will assist the security situation," Straw
said at a news conference.

"The more that we can give all Iraqis a stake in their
future and a stable political architecture in which to
work, the more I believe more Iraqis will become
committed to that future and fewer will think that
terror and quiescence in terror is the way forward."

Straw said he met with members of the
coalition-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to discuss
the political process, in which the council is to hand
over power to a new, transitional government by June

"Iraq is a better place and will become a far better
place as a result of that transition," he said. "Life
for a very large number of people in Iraq is
considerably better ... and will be infinitely better
when we can get on top of the security situation."

Three large explosions shook downtown Baghdad on
Tuesday evening, triggering a warning siren in the
"Green Zone" housing the U.S. headquarters. Capt.
David Gercken, a spokesman for the U.S. 1st Armored
Division, said rockets hit a bus station, a propane
station and an apartment building, wounding two
Iraqis, near  but not in  the "Green Zone."

U.S. Col. William Darley, said Tuesday that attacks
against U.S. forces peaked at more than 40 per day
about two weeks ago and have since dropped to about 30
per day  about the same as in October and well over
the number in August and September.

Since operations began in Iraq, 297 U.S. service
members have died in hostile action, including 183
since May 1 when President Bush (news - web sites)
declared an end to major fighting.

Straw said the obstacles in Iraq shouldn't come as a

"Military action is an uncertain business," he said.
"What we knew that we faced for certain was a tyrant
in Saddam Hussein and a highly organized network of
terror and repression, and we were never under any
illusions that it would be possible to remove this in
one go."

The U.S. command has in recent weeks pursued
insurgents more aggressively in an attempt to stop
them before they strike.

In one such operation, troops from the 3rd Armored
Cavalry Regiment encircled three towns along the
Syrian border in a search for weapons and fighters,
according to a U.S. News and World Report
correspondent who returned from the area Tuesday.

The troops established a cordon Thursday around the
towns of Husaybah, Karabilah and Sadah, total
population 120,000, and haven't let anyone in or out,
the reporter said, adding that troops were conducting
sweeps through the encircled territory.

The reporter, Bay Fang, said soldiers have detained
more than 300 people and discovered several weapons
caches. One held about 800 World War II-era torpedoes.

Associated Press correspondent Jim Gomez in Tikrit
contributed to this story.

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