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U.S. Holds Alleged Guerrilla in Iraq

October 10, 2003|From Associated Press

TIKRIT, Iraq — U.S. troops Thursday arrested an Iraqi resistance leader believed to be responsible for numerous attacks against American forces around ousted President Saddam Hussein's hometown, officials said.

In a series of raids of farming hamlets along the Tigris River, the 720th Military Police Battalion also uncovered a factory where roadside bombs were being built.

Led by an Iraqi informant, MPs raided a desert oasis in Tikrit's Abu Ajeed area and arrested a member of the Fedayeen Saddam, Hussein's former paramilitary force.

Another man was arrested with him, while an earlier raid netted three members of the Iraqi resistance whom authorities believed to be bomb makers.

"They are definitely, without a doubt, the individuals responsible for attacks against the coalition forces and probably orchestrating the attacks with improvised bombs in the Tikrit area," said Lt. Col. David Poirier, commanding officer of the 720th, based at Ft. Hood, Texas.

During the past three weeks, attacks in the Tikrit area have killed four soldiers and injured numerous others.

The military did not identify any of the captured Iraqis. Poir- ier called the Iraqi informant "a significant find."

The raids began late Monday, when the informant led MPs to a set of homes in Uja, a small farming town just outside Tikrit.

They discovered five rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, 60-millimeter mortar shells similar to those used to attack the main American base Wednesday, 15 rockets, 25 blocks of explosive each weighing about a pound, 40 hand grenades, electronic detonating devices and a bucket full of cut iron pieces.

Each block of explosive is thought to be enough for a bomb. The entire bomb factory, found in a mud hut, was destroyed.

In the second raid, which targeted three houses southeast of Tikrit, MPs discovered an apparent detonating device in a mud housing complex, then dug up three mortars from a wheat field.

They arrested the Fedayeen member and discovered a grenade launcher and nine rockets in a nearby well.

The man is suspected of orchestrating a Sept. 18 ambush that killed three American soldiers.

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