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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
'Thousands' flee fighting in Iraq
Map showing Iraqi town of Qaim
Thousands of Iraqis have fled fighting between US troops and insurgents in the west of the country, aid workers say.

The head of the Iraqi Red Crescent in the country told the BBC that about 1,000 families had been displaced from the border town of Qaim.

Four hundred families had moved into schools and mosques in the town of Mashari, and there was a need for tents and water, Said Ismail Haqqi said.

US forces say they have killed about 100 rebels in the military operation.

The US launched Operation Matador last Saturday in response to a sharp rise in insurgent attacks throughout Iraq in recent weeks.

More than 400 people have died in attacks since Iraq's new government was announced on 28 April.

'Roaming gunmen'

New Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari extended a six-month-old state of emergency on Friday, allowing Iraqi authorities to continue imposing curfews and issuing arrest warrants in an effort to track down insurgents.

In other violence in Iraq:

  • Three Iraqis, two of them soldiers, are killed in a car bomb attack in the central town of Baquba
  • One policeman is reportedly killed when gunmen open fire on a patrol in western Baghdad
  • Mortars kill three Iraqi soldiers at an army checkpoint in the southern town of Hilla, AP reports
  • Gunmen ambush an interior ministry official in western Baghdad, killing a guard, AP reports
  • A roadside bomb hits a US convoy on the road leading to the Baghdad airport.

The US has focused Operation Matador on Iraq's large, remote western region of Anbar.

The US military has said it believes that insurgents shifted to the area after the attack on former bases in Falluja last year.

Although military officials say 100 insurgents have been killed, there has been little further resistance since initial confrontations last weekend.

Few insurgents have surfaced in the following days, leading US commanders to suspect they have once again gone into hiding or fled the area.

Reports from the US military speak of air strikes on insurgent safe houses in remote areas and searches in desert villages.

An Associated Press correspondent in the town of Qaim said heavily-armed fighters still controlled the streets.

"We are trying to protect our city's entrances, and we will prevent the US forces from entering the city," one insurgent was reported as saying.

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