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Coalition Forces Destroy Zarqawi Terror Group Hideout

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2005 – Coalition forces raided and destroyed a hideout used by associates of fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi today, military officials in Baghdad reported.

During the raid, terrorists occupying the hideout near the Hamadi Fayadah area of Baghdad attacked the coalition forces, officials said. The house caught fire during the clash, causing explosives inside the house to detonate. Multinational forces secured the area for Baghdad emergency services personnel to extinguish the fire.

In other news from Iraq, nine Iraqis were killed and more than 30 were wounded in a series of explosions in central Baghdad as shopkeepers were opening their businesses for early-morning customers today.

Iraqi security forces quickly responded to the scenes of the blasts, which started at 7:40 a.m. Among the dead were three Iraqi police and six Iraqi civilians.

Police cordoned off the scenes to prevent further civilian casualties as Iraqi firefighters and explosive ordnance disposal teams rushed to the locations to extinguish fires and dismantle any unexploded ordnance. At one site, the EOD team found 200 pounds of explosives rigged with a timing device inside a van; they quickly and safely dismantled the improvised explosive device.

"The quick reaction and remarkable courage of the Iraqi EOD team saved an untold number of lives today," said Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, Task Force Baghdad spokesman. "It's brave individuals like these who are leading the war on terror here in the sovereign nation of Iraq."

Iraqi soldiers captured four terror suspects after their patrol was attacked in west Baghdad, and Iraqi army, Iraqi police and coalition forces teamed up to find weapons caches in northeast and central Baghdad on June 22.

Shortly before midnight, an Iraqi patrol from the 4th Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, was attacked by terrorist gunfire. The Iraqi soldiers cordoned off the area, executed a search, and captured four of the attackers. The unit took the men into custody for questioning.

At 9 a.m. June 22, Iraqi policemen teamed up with coalition forces to capture car-bomb makers and equipment. The joint force found 16 AK-47 assault rifles, three other guns, a protective mask, 25 assault rifle magazines and 417 rounds of ammunition.

"Every day, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces are conducting more than 30 combined and independent operations," Kent said. "Iraqi forces are taking the lead in many of those operations, and they're capturing terrorists, financiers and bomb makers, plus they're finding weapons caches thanks in part to more citizens coming forward to provide information."

In other developments, a vehicle-borne explosion in central Baghdad shortly after 9 p.m. June 22 killed four Iraqi police and four Iraqi civilians and wounded 45 others. The car bomb damaged a barber shop, a locksmith shop and an electronics store. Within minutes, Iraqi police were on the scene, along with a patrol from 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

An Iraqi police EOD team recovered four unexploded 155 mm rounds from the site, and no further injuries resulted, officials said.

"Terrorists are attempting to use fear to discredit and destabilize the sovereign government, but the Iraqi people have increasingly demonstrated their resiliency to this intimidation," Kent said today. "Last night's attack is a clear demonstration of the total disregard terrorists have for innocent Iraqis. They killed and wounded innocent citizens while destroying viable small businesses. It is clear these actions only targeted civilians and are an attempt to discredit the sovereign Iraqi government." In other Iraq news, two soldiers assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), were killed in action June 21 by small-arms fire. The incident took place during combat operations near Ramadi. The 2nd BCT is a U.S. Army unit assigned to the 2nd MEF in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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

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