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IP: 207.7.201.* 20.10.04, 22:59
U.S. Raids Kill Family of 6 in Rebel-Held Iraqi City

By Yasser Faisal
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. warplanes killed a family of six in raids
against rebels led by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, while a top
international aid agency suspended Iraq operations Wednesday after its manager
was kidnapped.

A Reuters witness saw a man and a woman and four children, two boys and two
girls, being pulled out of the rubble of a razed home in the rebel-held city
of Falluja, about 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad.

The U.S. military denied a family of six was killed, saying it launched four
strikes against safehouses used by Zarqawi's fighters.

"Intelligence sources indicate a known Zarqawi propagandist is passing false
reports to the media," it said in a statement.

Reuters television footage showed men chanting "There is no God but Allah!" as
they carried the body of the father of the family of six.

"Is this the gift that (interim Iraqi Prime Minister) Iyad Allawi is giving to
the people of Falluja?" asked one man, pointing to the small bodies of two of
the children lying in the trunk of a car. "Every day they strike Falluja."

SAMARRA CLASHES

At least eight civilians were killed and 11 U.S. soldiers wounded in clashes
in Samarra, a northern town the U.S. military said it had pacified following
an offensive earlier this month.

Two car bombs killed a child and also wounded a civilian translator in the
center of the town, the U.S. military said. A police official said eight
civilians had been killed and 12 wounded in clashes.

Care International, an aid agency working in Iraq on health and water
projects, suspended operations after its British-Iraqi manager in Iraq,
Margaret Hassan, was abducted and said it might pull out of the country
altogether.

Hours after she was abducted Tuesday, Hassan, who has lived in Iraq for 30
years, was shown sitting alone and anxious in a video aired on Al Jazeera
television, which said an unnamed group claimed to be holding her.

"At the moment we have suspended operations, and we will continue to pull out
of the country unless we can resolve this issue," Care International chief
Geoffrey Dennis told BBC radio.

Scores of foreigners have been kidnapped since April and at least 35 have been
killed, several of them beheaded.

The U.S. military says its almost nightly strikes on Falluja are carefully
targeted at fighters led by Jordanian militant Zarqawi, who it says is holed
up in the city.

But residents say they know nothing of Zarqawi -- some even doubt his
existence -- and that the U.S. raids kill civilians.

ALLAWI WARNING

Allawi has warned Falluja's residents to hand over Zarqawi's followers or face
military action. He has said he remains open to talks, but Western diplomats
in Baghdad say an offensive against the town of 300,000 is becoming
increasingly likely.

In other violence, an adviser to Allawi's political party was killed in a
drive-by shooting in Baghdad Wednesday, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Iraq's U.S.-backed interim government is struggling to restore order to allow
reconstruction of a country ravaged by years of war and U.N. sanctions and to
allow the first democratic elections in decades to go ahead on time in January.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told parliament he expected an upsurge of
violence in Iraq before the elections.

"This has nothing to do with American (presidential) elections. It has
everything to do, however, with the Iraqi elections," he said.

Blair said he had not decided yet on a U.S. request to shift British troops to
more dangerous parts of the country to free up U.S. forces for other action.

Some accuse him of having already agreed to do so to help President Bush
before the Nov. 2 U.S. presidential election, in which Iraq has been a major
campaign issue.

The third U.S. soldier to face court martial over mistreatment of prisoners in
Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, a scandal that sparked worldwide outrage, pleaded
guilty to abusing prisoners, including forcing three to masturbate.

Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick is expected to be sentenced on Thursday in the
court martial at a military base in Baghdad.

Iraq would urge other countries to help it improve security and prepare for
elections at an international conference in Egypt next month, officials said.

The United Nations, European Union, Arab League, Organization of Islamic
Countries, Group of Eight top industrialized countries and China are among
those planning to send representatives.


10/20/04 14:18
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