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US Air Strikes in Fallujah Target Suspected Insurgents - 2004-07-23


U.S. forces in Iraq carried out a missile attack against a group of suspected insurgents in the city of Fallujah early Friday. Local officials said no one was killed, but several people were injured. Iraqi government officials say the attacks are intended to wipe out the base of support for the most wanted man in Iraq.

It was the seventh missile strike in Fallujah in just over a month. And, senior Interior Ministry officials say such attacks will continue, until wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is either, "captured, killed or rendered incapable of carrying out further acts of terror," in Iraq.

Friday morning's attack was carried out in coordination with intelligence from the Iraqi interim government, and targeted 10-12 militants believed to have ties with al-Zarqawi. A $25 million reward is being offered for the capture or killing of the Jordanian-born militant.

Friday, an Interior Ministry official said the search for al-Zarqawi has been, "relentless." He said he expects the terrorist will "soon be captured or killed," as the result of increasing Iraqi intelligence.

In the meantime, the fate of seven kidnapped foreigners remains unknown. The kidnappers are threatening to behead one hostage every 72 hours, unless the Kuwaiti trucking company the hostages work for shuts down operations in Iraq. The hostages include three Kenyans, three Indians and one Egyptian. The latest kidnappings have led the Kenyan government to urge its citizens in Iraq to leave the country.

Also, it was announced Thursday that a headless body was discovered on the banks of the Tigris River late Wednesday. It is feared it may be that of a second Bulgarian truck driver kidnapped June 29. The decapitated body of the other Bulgarian was discovered July 14.

A group associated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for those kidnappings.

Most of the recent kidnappings have involved truck drivers working for foreign companies, many of which deliver supplies to coalition forces in Iraq.

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