[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
arabic
persian
pashto
turkish
french
Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 13:57 GMT
US launches anti-insurgency raids
US soldiers led a hooded detainee following a raid in Tikrit
The raid took place before dawn
US troops have carried out raids in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, arresting a number of people they suspect of planning to carry out attacks on coalition forces in Iraq.

"We were targeting what we suspect was a terrorist cell network," Colonel Steve Russell told the Reuters news agency.

The raid came as the US voiced suspicions that a former senior member of the Saddam Hussein government was co-ordinating attacks from the area.

A senior defence official in Washington said there was evidence that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was officially number two in the former regime, was helping direct the insurgency.

Mr Ibrahim is the highest-ranking official still at large other than Saddam Hussein himself.

The United Nations is reported to have ordered the withdrawal of its remaining staff from Baghdad due to the security situation.

"We have asked Baghdad staff to come out temporarily for consultations with people from headquarters on the future of our operation," UN spokeswoman in Geneva Marie Heuze was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Ongoing attacks

There has been debate about the degree of co-ordination behind the attacks on foreign troops and aid workers in Iraq.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

But as attacks continue, the US is reportedly considering shifting resources from the hunt for banned weapons to fighting the insurgency.

As US led forces try to stem the attacks on them and their allies, intelligence has become a key area of concern, the BBC's Nick Childs at the Pentagon says.

The US troop death toll since President George W Bush declared an end of major fighting reached 115 on Wednesday - passing the number of troops killed during the war itself.

The Red Cross and UN have already announced they will be reducing staff numbers in light of attacks on their organisations.

The Red Cross headquarters was among four Baghdad sites bombed on Monday.

The attacks left at least 36 people dead, making it the bloodiest day since the start of the US-led occupation.

Neutrality

The Red Cross has not yet determined the size of the cut in the wake of the first suicide attack ever on the humanitarian organisation.

We will never ask for armed protection because this means that we are putting aside our neutrality
Nada Doumani,
Red Cross spokeswoman
An agency spokeswoman said the Red Cross faced a dilemma, needing both to provide essential services and to keep its staff safe.

"If you want to be accessible it means that you cannot have concrete walls," Nada Doumani told the BBC.

"We will never ask for armed protection because this means that we are putting aside our neutrality, and this is unacceptable not only in Iraq but anywhere else in the world where we are operating," she said.

"So we just still hope that the message can be put through to the people who did this that in fact we are neutral, we are impartial, we are not linked to the coalition forces. We have no political agenda in this country."

The Red Cross has about 30 foreign workers in Iraq, plus about 600 Iraqi employees.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Lisa Hampele
"It was his [Izzat Ibrahim's] responsibility to keep contact with foreign extremists"



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific