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[casi] Ex-Saddam Deputy Killed or Caught in Raid

Ex-Saddam Deputy Killed or Caught in Raid

By MIRIAM FAM, Associated Press Writer

KIRKUK, Iraq - U.S. troops may have killed or arrested
a top former deputy of Saddam Hussein (news - web
sites) who is suspected of leading the anti-U.S.
insurgency, an Iraqi official said Tuesday. Officials
of the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad said they had no
information on the report.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, No. 6 on the U.S. list of
most-wanted Iraqis, may have been arrested or killed
in a U.S. raid in Kirkuk in northern Iraq (news - web
sites), a senior Kurdish official in Kirkuk said on
condition of anonymity.

"I heard he might have been killed or captured," the
official said, citing sources in his political party.
U.S. officials last week offered a $10 million reward
for information leading to al-Douri's capture. Aside
from Saddam, Al-Douri is the most senior official of
the former regime who is still at large.

Last week, U.S. troops arrested a wife and a daughter
of al-Douri in an apparent attempt to pressure him
into surrendering.

In Baghdad, workers on Tuesday began dismantling four
giant bronze busts of Saddam Hussein that have long
been a Baghdad landmark.

The workers used a construction crane to take down the
busts in the Republican Palace, in yet another move
aimed at eradicating the former leader's influence.
The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority announced
last month that it would dismantle the 13-feet-high
busts. It was not clear how long the operation would

Meanwhile, a witness said insurgents ambushed American
soldiers just south of Samarra, a city where troops
and insurgents fought a pitched battle on Sunday. U.S.
commanders claimed that up to 54 guerrillas were
killed in the clash Sunday , but this has been
disputed by residents and hospital officials who say
less than 10 people  most of them civilians  died.

Tuesday's ambush occurred on the road between Baghdad
and Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital, witnesses
said. An Associated Press photographer said he saw
American soldiers using a stretcher to carry a body
covered in plastic. It was unclear who the victim was.

A military spokesman said he had no information about
the reported clash.

In addition to attacking coalition forces, rebels in
recent days have killed a number of nonmilitary
personnel, including two Japanese diplomats, two South
Korean electrical workers and a Colombian contractor.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's chief representative
in Iraq, warned that insurgents are now turning to
softer targets and urged foreigners to increase
security levels.

"People have to be very careful. The Spaniards and the
Japanese who were killed this week were not following
the strictest possible protection rules," Greenstock
told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Greenstock said he was confident coalition troops
would retain a grip on events and said the coalition
backed the aggressive approach to tackling security
problems being taken by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the
top U.S. commander in Iraq.

During the past month, U.S. troops have pounded
suspected guerrilla targets under a new "get-tough"
campaign against the insurgency. Despite the
crackdown, November has proven to be the deadliest for
coalition troops since the war began.

The increasing death toll has raised concerns in some
nations taking part in the U.S.-led coalition.
On Tuesday, Thailand's Foreign Minister Surakiart
Sathirathai said government leaders will discuss the
possibility of withdrawing Thailand's contingent from
Iraq if the security situation continues to

Thailand dispatched 422 soldiers in September in a
non-combat capacity to help rebuild roads, buildings
and other infrastructure destroyed during the war, and
to provide medical services.

The fighting in Samarra on Sunday represented a
greater level of coordination in the Iraqi insurgency,
although U.S. forces said they had anticipated the
attacks and blunted them with superior firepower.

U.S. Capt. Andy Deponai, whose tank was hit by a
rocket-propelled grenade during the firefight, said on
Monday that he was surprised by the scale of the
attack on the convoys, which were carrying bundles of
new Iraqi currency, and that 30 to 40 assailants lay
in wait  armed with rocket-propelled grenades  near
each of the two banks where the money was being

"Up to now you've seen a progression  initially it
was hit-and-run, single RPG shots on patrols. Then
they started doing volley fire, multiple RPG ambushes,
and then from there, this is the first
well-coordinated one," he said.

"It's hard to tell on the basis of one attack exactly
what tactics may or may not be changing," Gen. Peter
Pace, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff,
said at a Brussels, Belgium.

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