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US Air Strikes Kill at Least 12 in Fallujah - 2004-07-18


Senior Iraqi government officials say at least 12 people have been killed by U.S. air strikes against suspected terrorist targets in Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

Sources in Iraq's Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the internal security of Iraq, confirm the United States conducted air strikes against targets in Fallujah.

The early morning strikes followed Thursday's promise by Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to, as he put it, "annihilate" terrorist groups in Iraq.

The bombing also followed a failed assassination attempt Saturday on Iraq's interim justice minister, Malik Dohan al-Hassan, in Baghdad. A group linked to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attack that left four people dead.

Previous air strikes in Fallujah have specifically targeted militant safe houses believed frequented by Mr. al-Zarqawi, but Iraqi's security officials would not disclose the intended target of the latest strike.

Fallujah was the scene a few months ago of intense fighting between coalition forces and Iraqi militants believed to be loyal to the former regime of Saddam Hussein. The situation began to quiet down in the city, after the coalition handed policing duties over to Iraqi security forces.

In the meantime, the fate of Filipino hostage Angelo de la Cruz remains unknown, but the remaining members of the Philippines' 51-person peacekeeping contingent in Iraq will reportedly leave the country Monday and head for Kuwait.

The Philippines government decided to withdraw its peacekeeping contingent following threats by the hostage takers to behead the 46-year-old truck driver, who was kidnapped last week, unless all Filipino troops left the country.

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