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Suicide Attack Foiled, Hostage Rescued, Weapons Seized

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2006 – Iraqi police pre-empted two suicide bombers today, a French hostage was rescued over the weekend, and an Iraqi citizen led soldiers to a weapons cache yesterday, military officials in Baghdad reported.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at noon today when they were denied access at an Iraqi police entry point to the Ministry of Defense compound, where an Iraqi Police Day ceremony was being held in the Rusafa District of eastern Baghdad, officials said.

When Iraqi police denied the first suicide bomber entry into the compound, the terrorist detonated himself. A minute later, the second terrorist approached the same entry point and detonated himself as well. Initial reports indicate at least one Iraqi citizen and one Iraqi policeman were killed in the explosions and numerous others were wounded, officials said. The ceremony was completed without further interruption.

U.S. and Iraqi soldiers searching for weapons caches in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad on Jan. 7 rescued French engineer who was kidnapped Dec. 5, officials said.

As the Iraqi soldiers closed in on the kidnappers, officials said, they fled from a nearby farmhouse and left the French hostage behind. After the kidnappers fled, the hostage, Bernard Planche, a 52-year-old French nongovernmental organization employee, ran up to the checkpoint.

Task Force Ironhorse soldiers manned the checkpoint as part of an outer cordon, while Iraqi soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, searched farmhouses for weapons caches, officials noted.

In western Baghdad yesterday, an Iraqi man flagged down an Iraqi army patrol and led them to a large weapons and munitions cache.

Officials said the man had been kidnapped and escaped from his captors. He then led soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, to the house where he had been held hostage. There, Iraqi soldiers found a large cache of artillery rounds wired as explosive devices, rifle grenades, homemade explosives, hand grenades, a sub-machine gun, machine guns, a sniper rifle, Iraqi police uniforms, masks, explosives, detonation cord, artillery primers, rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, and RPG rounds, fuses and sights.

They also found mortars mortar sights, blasting caps, fuses, propellant charges, mercury chloride, ammunition, a gas grenade, timers, switches, license plates, weapons magazines and assorted propaganda.

In addition, officials said the Iraqi soldiers found char marks on the rooftop consistent with blast marks from a mortar, indicating that the house may have been the sight for mortar attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Task Force Ironhorse news releases.)

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