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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 September, 2004, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Falluja under further US attack
Residents pick through the rubble of a house destroyed in Falluja
People pick their way through the rubble after the first raid
US aircraft have carried out a second consecutive night of air raids on the rebel stronghold of Falluja in Iraq.

American forces said the attack was a "precision strike" on a meeting point for militants in the city, which is 40 miles (65km) west of Baghdad.

They say secondary blasts indicate that the site was being used by groups loyal to terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to store explosives and ammunition.

Doctors say the raids have killed 15 people, including women and children.

Saturday night's strike targeted about 10 militants meeting in the centre of Falluja to plan operations, the US military said.

"Multiple secondary explosions following the strike indicate the site was used by terrorists to store explosives and weapons," a military statement said.

At least seven people were killed and 11 hurt in the blasts, with women, children and the elderly among the casualties, hospital sources said.

The first US raids had left at least eight dead and 15 injured.

In other developments:

  • a senior Iraqi National Guard Commander, Gen Talib al-Lahibi, is detained over suspected links with insurgents, the US military announces

  • there are reports of several deaths as an attack on a petrol convoy in Latifiya, south of Baghdad, destroys five out of 12 tankers

  • a rocket attack in the centre of Baghdad is reported to have killed one person

  • a delegation from Britain's Muslim Council is in Baghdad to try to secure the release of a British man, Ken Bigley, held hostage for more than a week

  • an American soldier, Specialist Federico Merida, is sentenced to 25 years in jail for the murder of an Iraqi national guard in May

  • UK Prime Minister Tony Blair admits mistakes were made in the run-up to the Iraq war but insists it was right to topple Saddam Hussein


The latest air raids on Falluja form part of efforts by US forces to flush Zarqawi and his fighters out of the city.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
Zarqawi is believed to be behind much of the violence in Iraq
The US accuses the Jordanian-born militant, who heads the Tawhid and Jihad movement, of leading al-Qaeda operations in Iraq and for being behind numerous car bombings and kidnappings.

This week his group beheaded two American hostages and has threatened to kill Kenneth Bigley.

US officials have also offered a $25m bounty for information leading to Zarqawi's capture.

Falluja, in the so-called Sunni triangle, has been a centre of some of the strongest resistance to coalition forces.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"Again doctors say that women and children were amongst those killed"


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