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35 US Troops Wounded in Mortar Attack Outside Baghdad - 2004-01-07

U.S. officials say 35 American troops were wounded Wednesday in a mortar attack west of Baghdad.

They say six mortar rounds hit a U.S. military base (Logistical Base Seitz). Officials say the soldiers were given first aid and evacuated from the base for further medical treatment.

U.S. military officials did not release any other details about the incident.

Meanwhile, Iraq's U.S.-led provisional authority plans to release 100 prisoners Thursday as a goodwill gesture. The detainees will be the first group of more than 500 prisoners the authority plans to free. They were detained as low-level security threats. The coalition holds some 9,000 people in detention.

U.S. administrator Paul Bremer announced the releases Wednesday, saying the coalition hopes allowing some detainees to return home will encourage reconciliation in Iraq.

Mr. Bremer added that the releases would not include prisoners who have been involved in killings or causing serious injuries to any Iraqi citizen or member of the coalition. Mr. Bremer said the Coalition Authority would also try to make it easier for relatives to visit those who remain in detention.

Also Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende made a surprise visit to Dutch troops serving in southern Iraq. More than one thousand Dutch troops are stationed in the British-controlled Al Muthanna province as part of the U.S. led multinational force.