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US Military Detains 18 in Oct. Attack on Baghdad Hotel - 2003-11-09

The U.S. military in Iraq has rounded up suspects in last month's deadly rocket attack against Baghdad's al-Rasheed Hotel. In the meantime, U.S. forces are using F-16 fighter jets as they intensify their battle against anti-coalition forces.

The U.S. military says 18 people had been detained in connection with last month's rocket attack on the al-Rasheed Hotel in downtown Baghdad.

Eight to 10 rockets hit the hotel, killing a U.S. army colonel and wounding 15 other people. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel at the time of the attack but escaped injury.

One day later, there was a series of suicide bombings at Iraqi police stations and the headquarters of the International Red Cross that left dozens of people dead and hundreds of others wounded.

The military also announced that F-16 fighter planes dropped three 227-kilogram bombs west of Baghdad, near the town of Fallujah.

The bombing was in response to a rocket-propelled grenade attack against U.S. troops in the area that left one American soldier wounded.

A similar bombing raid was conducted near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. That raid was the first time coalition aircraft had engaged in bombing runs in Iraq since the conclusion of major combat operations May 1.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel George Krivo said there will be an increase in the intensity of the amount of activities conducted by coalition forces.

In the meantime, in what is now virtually a daily occurrence in Iraq, a U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

U.S. military officials said the soldiers were part of the 1st Armored Division patrolling central Baghdad when the bomb exploded late Saturday.

In Baghdad, Iraq's interim foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari said the U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council would go into intensive discussions to draw up plans for the creation of an Iraqi constitution to pave the way for general elections.

The U.N. Security Council has mandated that the Governing Council come up with a timetable for the creation of a constitution by December 15. The foreign minister said it is now up to the council to deliver.