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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Fresh raids target Iraqi rebels
Local residents survey the damage after insurgents fired three mortars that landed close to a US base near Sadr City
Clashes have erupted in Baghdad between US forces and militants
The US has continued heavy raids on the rebel city of Falluja, including what it called a "terrorist site" linked to militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

He is blamed for a string of kidnappings and suicide bombings.

Local doctors said at least three civilians were killed in the raid, but the US said "only Zarqawi operatives", not civilians, were at the site.

Clashes erupted in Baghdad's centre between US forces and Iraqi militants after overnight US raids on Sadr City.

Residents said dozens of tanks roamed the streets of the suburb, which is a stronghold of Shia militiamen.

In other developments:

  • A car bomb explodes in Ramadi near a passing US military column, damaging a US military vehicle and wounding some people, police and witnesses said

  • Two British soldiers are killed when their convoy is ambushed in Basra, the British army says

  • US forces in Kirkuk say they have detained Hussein Salman Mohammed al-Juburi, the alleged leader of the local cell of Ansar al-Sunna, a group blamed for killing 12 Nepalese hostages last month

  • Jordan's King Abdullah says in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro that holding elections whose outcome would not be disputed is "impossible" in the current climate of chaos in Iraq

  • One of six Egyptian hostages kidnapped in Iraq last week is released, according to his employers.

'Credible intelligence'

In Falluja, which for several months has been a stronghold of militants fighting US and Iraqi forces, the American military said it had "conducted a precision strike" targeting rising members of Zarqawi's organisation.

"Several credible intelligence sources confirmed that members of the terrorist group were operating at the site at the time of the strike," it said in a statement.

The strike "accurately targeted this terrorist location while protecting the surrounding homes," the statement said.

Medics in Falluja said at least two people were dead - one report said they included a child - and at least six injured.

Last week a US official said up to 100 of Zarqawi's associates had been killed in the heavy bombardment of Falluja in recent weeks.

The same official said reports from doctors in the town that dozens of civilians had been killed in the strikes should be treated with caution.

Meanwhile there were strikes on Sadr City, a stronghold for supporters of Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr.

US military spokesman Captain Brian O'Malley told AFP the strikes were "precision fire" targeting "improvised explosive devices".

But a representative of Moqtada Sadr described the raids as "the most intensive ever" and said they had caused power cuts in the area.

Five people were reported killed in similar strikes early on Monday.

The US military has questioned the number of injuries but says it is opening an internal investigation into the raids.

US troops have frequently clashed with Mr Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.

A peace deal last month ended weeks of fighting in the city of Najaf but clashes have continued in Sadr City.


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