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Former Ba'ath Party Official Arrested in Baghdad - 2004-02-15


A high-ranking official from Saddam Hussein's government has been arrested in Baghdad as insurgents attacked U.S. military convoys.

Iraq's interior ministry announced the capture of a former Ba'ath party official at one of his homes in Baghdad. Mohammed Zimam Abdul-Razaq was the governor of two of Iraq's oil-rich northern provinces and the Four of Spades in the U.S. deck of most-wanted from the former regime.

Meanwhile, violence continued with two attacks on U.S. army convoys in Baghdad. In one, a roadside bomb was detonated near the passing convoy. Witnesses said U.S. soldiers responded by firing at nearby cars, injuring a number of civilians. Also in Baghdad, assailants fired at another U.S. convoy, damaging a civilian vehicle traveling with it.

Meanwhile, speculation continued over who was behind a deadly attack Saturday on a police station that killed more than 20 in the troubled town of Fallujah. Fourteen Iraqi police officers were among the dead. Authorities say dozens of insurgents firing rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons overwhelmed the town's lightly-armed police and freed scores of prisoners who were being held on criminal charges.

It was the most sophisticated raid so far in Iraq. One group assaulted the police as another group pinned down Iraqi security forces at a nearby government building. Iraqi police and U.S. officials say the complex operation was likely planned by former soldiers of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Rumors abounded in Fallujah about who was involved in the raid. Police said two of the attackers killed in the battle were carrying Lebanese passports.

The attacks ended a bloody week in Iraq which started with two separate car bombings that killed more that 100. The increased violence brings into question whether Iraqi security forces will be able to maintain stability after the planned U.S. handover of power at the end of June.