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U.S. Says Major Combat is Over, But Iraq is Still Dangerous - 2003-05-02


President Bush has returned to the mainland United States after a televised speech from a U.S. Aircraft carrier - in which he said the U.S. War against terrorism continues – even though major combat operations in Iraq have ended. Meanwhile, the U.S. Military says two more of the 55 most-wanted officials from Saddam Hussein’s regime are now in custody. Brian Purchia has the latest in Iraq.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in London, said while the major combat is over, Iraq is still dangerous.

U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD
“I think it would be a terrible mistake to think that Iraq is a fully secured, fully pacified environment, it is not. It is dangerous.”

U.S. soldiers in Baghdad say they are still being fired on.

ANTHONY MANCHA, US ARMY 3RD DIVISION
"They still got gunshots around here.”

Many Iraqis in the capital say their country is not secure.

ARABIC: IRAQI MAN
"The war is not over for us, there is no electricity, there is no drinking water. There is no peace or safety.”

ARABIC: IRAQI WOMAN
"We can't go out after six or seven, we can't let our sons and daughters out because the shooting is still going on."

Meanwhile, the Iraqi town of Falluja was quiet after mid-day prayers Friday; this following a series of clashes earlier in the week. VOA's Laurie Kassman was there.

VOICE OF LAURIE KASSMAN, VOA CORRESPONDENT
“After the prayers, the Sheikh of the mosque… called on the worshippers to have patience. And he said don't listen to those who would try to fuel clashes between Iraqis and Americans.”

The U.S. military says two more of the 55 most-wanted officials from Saddam Hussein's regime are in custody. U.S. Central Command identifies the officials as an Iraqi Vice President and the director of Iraq's Military Industrialization Office.

On the aid front… in Basra, a Virgin Atlantic Airways plane landed with medical aid, including incubators, wheelchairs and life-saving drugs.

President Bush plans to name a former diplomat and counter-terrorism expert to guide political and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Reports say former ambassador Paul Bremer will be named special envoy and civil administrator of Iraq. Mr. Bremer will lead a team that includes retired U.S. General Jay Garner already in Iraq.

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