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Saddam Turns Combative While Testifying at Own Trial


A combative Saddam Hussein testified Wednesday for the first time at his murder trial, calling on Iraqis to stop killing each other and to fight U.S. forces instead.

Saddam also called the tribunal a "comedy" and insisted he is still president. His comments triggered a heated exchange with the chief judge, who told him to stop making political speeches.

The judge later adjourned the trial until April 5.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial for the killing of 148 Shi'ites in the Iraqi village of Dujail in 1982. They face death by hanging if found guilty.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is deploying an additional battalion-size force of about 700 troops to Iraq, to boost security around the new national parliament and to protect Shi'ite pilgrims observing a major holiday.

Parliament holds its inaugural session Thursday.

Annual festivities surrounding Monday's Arabeen holiday have been marred by deadly attacks from Sunni insurgents in Baghdad and Karbala since 2003.

In other news, Iraqi police say 11 people were killed in a raid on a house near Balad, north of Baghdad. The U.S. military confirmed the attack but said only four people were killed in the operation, including an al-Qaida suspect.

Elsewhere, police say two Shi'ite pilgrims were killed in Baghdad as they walked on a roadway toward Karbala.

A U.S. statement said an American soldier was killed by mortar fire southwest of Baghdad Wednesday evening. No other details were released.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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