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U.S. Offensive Targets Ramadi, Haditha

From Times Wire Services

U.S. Marines and Iraqi soldiers fought militants in the towns of Haditha and Ramadi in Al Anbar province during a day of scattered violence around Iraq.

Troops in tanks and armored vehicles stormed Haditha in the middle of the night, blowing up a weapons cache and exchanging gunfire with guerrillas. But overall resistance was light.

In Ramadi, witnesses reported fierce gun battles between U.S. troops and insurgents. One said a Humvee was destroyed, although that could not be confirmed. A hospital official said at least three people had been killed and 17 injured.

Since they launched the River Blitz offensive early last week, U.S. and Iraqi troops have arrested about 150 suspected insurgents and seized bomb-making gear, machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

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At least four U.S. troops have died, including a soldier assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force who the military said was killed Friday.

In a separate incident, a Marine was killed in action Saturday in Babil province. The Marines gave no details on either death.

More than 1,480 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of the war in March 2003.

In other violence, the body of Raiedah Mohammed Wageh Wazan, a 35-year-old news presenter for U.S.-funded Nineveh TV, was found along a Mosul street, six days after she was kidnapped by masked gunmen, her husband said.

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Salim Saad-Allah said his wife had been shot four times in the head.

“This is a criminal act. She was an innocent woman who did not hurt anybody in all her life,” he said.

The mother of four had been threatened with death several times by insurgents who demanded that she quit her job, Saad-Allah said.

In Iraq’s north, attackers late Friday set fire to an oil pipeline running about 20 miles from fields in Dibis to Kirkuk. An official with the state-run North Oil Co. said Saturday that it would take at least four days to repair the line.

Elsewhere, gunmen opened fire on two Trade Ministry trucks between Baghdad and the southeastern city of Kut, killing two drivers, police said.

Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and nine wounded when a suicide bomber attacked their checkpoint near Musayyib, south of Baghdad, police sources said. Three cars were set ablaze.

A car bomb killed two civilians and injured three in Baghdad.


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