New Strike On Fallujah Stronghold

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killer of Nicholas, Nick, Berg
The U.S. military launched another airstrike early Thursday against a suspected hideout of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Fallujah. It was the fourth attack this month against suspected terrorist targets in the city.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for the multinational force, said the attack was launched after "multiple confirmations of Iraqi and multinational intelligence."

"This operation employed precision weapons to attack the safe house and underscores the resolve of multinational and Iraqi security forces to jointly destroy terrorist networks within Iraq," Kimmitt said.

The statement gave no further details but residents contacted by telephone said U.S. jets fired missiles at a house on the eastern side of the city, located about 30 miles west of Baghdad.

Four people were killed and 10 were injured in the blasts, according to Dr. Loai Ali of the Fallujah General Hospital.

Fallujah is believed to have become a stronghold of the al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad movement since U.S. Marines lifted their three-week siege of the city in April and handed security over to a locally raised force commanded by officers from Saddam Hussein's army.

Residents say the city is now under the control of radical clerics and their armed followers. The Tawhid and Jihad movement claimed responsibility for the beheading of American Nicholas Berg and South Korean Kim Sun-Il.

In other developments:

  • A roadside bomb detonated near a Baghdad hospital on Thursday, injuring a senior Iraqi Finance Ministry official and killing two of his guards, police and hospital officials said. Ehsan Karim, the head of the ministry's audit board, suffered slight injuries in the bombing which occurred at around 8 a.m.
  • In a separate incident, another roadside bomb went off in the Amiriya district of the capital after a U.S. patrol passed through. Several Iraqi bystanders were killed and injured, Hussein said.
  • Iraq's security situation has deteriorated in the past year, its courts are in worse shape than before the war, and its electrical system is not meeting targets, Congressional investigators say in a report.
  • Police slapped a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Wednesday, a day after discovering about 150 pounds of explosives in a white BMW, police Brig. Ghalib al-Jazaari said. One Libyan man who allegedly entered Iraq from neighboring Syria to fight U.S. forces was detained in connection with the incident, al-Jazaari said.
  • A 1st Armored Division soldier was killed and four others were injured during a traffic accident near the Kuwait border on Wednesday night, the U.S. military said. The accident was non-combat related, the military said.
  • Insurgents fired at least 10 mortar rounds at a U.S. base on the outskirts of Baghdad International Airport on Wednesday, wounding 11 soldiers, two of them seriously, and starting a fire that burned for well over an hour.
  • The U.S. Army has reopened investigations into two prisoner deaths in Iraq that had previously been attributed to natural causes, an official with the service said. New information led investigators to question the causes of the deaths, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
  • For the first time in more than a decade, the Army is forcing thousands of former soldiers back into uniform, a reflection of the strain on the service of long campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army officials said Tuesday that about 5,600 former soldiers — mostly people who recently left the service and have up-to-date skills in military policing, engineering, logistics, medicine or transportation — will be assigned to National Guard and Reserve units starting in July.
  • The U.S. military has changed the status of a Marine in Iraq from "missing" to "captured." In a videotape shown on Arab TV Sunday, militants threaten to behead Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, a Marine of Lebanese descent. The New York Times quotes a Marine source who says Hassoun had deserted and was trying to make his way back to Lebanon, after seeing a comrade killed by a mortar.