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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
US attacks Falluja 'arms store'
US soldier in Samarra
The US and Iraqis have vowed to re-take all rebel-held cities
US forces have carried out another air strike on the rebellious Iraqi city of Falluja, the third in 24 hours.

They bombed a building which they said was being used by insurgents as a weapons store.

The attack is said to have happened as up to 15 suspected militants were moving ammunition and weapons, probably killing most of those present.

Elsewhere, the city of Samarra is now largely under the control of US and Iraqi forces after days of fighting.

The operation there is part of a broader move to wrest control of insurgent strongholds.

The Americans and Iraq's interim government say they are determined to retake rebel-held areas ahead of January's scheduled elections.

In other Iraq developments:

  • Iraqi police report the discoveries of the bodies of a man and woman in Yussifiya, 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Baghdad; the man had been beheaded and the woman shot in the head

  • Scores of Iraqi Kurds take to the streets of the northern city of Kirkuk to demand the departure of Arab families settled in the oil centre by Saddam Hussein's regime

  • US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admits he was surprised by the level of anti-US resistance in Iraq, and predicts that the level of violence will remain high at least until January's election

'Civilians killed'

The US military said its attack on Falluja had severely damaged the targeted building, and triggered a wave of secondary explosions that indicated ammunition was being stored inside.


In a statement, it said 10 to 15 rebels suspected of links with Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were in the area at the time.

"A large number of enemy fighters are presumed killed," it added.

Two civilians were killed and 10 injured in the air strikes, the city's hospital said, while another two civilians were killed and two more wounded when a US tank fired on a house in the city's southern suburbs.

Followers of Zarqawi have claimed responsibility for a string of deadly bombings, kidnappings and other attacks in Iraq since the US-led occupation began.

The US military says it has inflicted significant damage on the network during weeks of "precision strikes" against targets in Falluja, which lies 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of Baghdad.

Snipers

Earlier, American and Iraqi government forces said they had secured about 70% of Samarra, although they were still meeting some resistance.

The Americans say more than 125 insurgents have been killed and 88 detained during the two-day assault on the city, but local doctors report that many civilians have been caught up in the fighting.

"It is over in Samarra," Iraqi Defence Minister Hazem Shaalan said in an interview with Arab television network al-Arabiya. He said up to $40m was being allocated for reconstruction and compensation to residents of the embattled city.

Reports say residents of Samarra - which lies on the main highway from Baghdad to northern Iraq - are too afraid to venture out.

Witnesses in the centre of the city have spoken of American snipers shooting at anyone who appeared on the streets.

Some 5,000 troops poured into Samarra during Friday in one of the biggest offensives since the invasion of Iraq.




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