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Soldier Killed; More Suspected Terrorists Killed, Captured

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2005 – A U.S. soldier was killed and several suspected terrorists were killed or captured during military operations in Iraq March 20, military officials in Baghdad reported.

The soldier, serving with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed while conducting security and stability operations in Iraq's Anbar province.

Citing security considerations in the province, officials provided no other details. Meanwhile, Iraqi and U.S. forces captured a handful of suspected terrorist in recent days, some of whom were caught planting bombs aimed at killing Iraqi civilians as well as coalition and Iraqi security forces. During one incident in the Salah Ad Din province, Task Force Liberty soldiers tried to stop and question Iraqis digging holes along the side of the road. The men fled and ignored orders to stop. Two of the men were killed and two were detained. One of the detainees was wounded.

Separately, two more suspected terrorists were arrested after attempting to place two 155 mm improvised explosive devices in Western Baghdad. Officials said coalition patrols often search for people digging holes along roadsides, which is the first step in the emplacement of improvised explosive devices. Those caught digging will be detained and questioned for links to IED makers or financiers.

"Those who seek violence must understand they will only find violent ends," said Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Taluto, 42nd Infantry Division and Task Force Liberty commander. "These individuals who emplace IEDs have an opportunity to choose between being a part of the solution or a part of the problem for the new Iraq.

"There is no gain for themselves or the good people of Iraq in their actions," he added. "The sooner these individuals turn away from the insurgency as a lost cause and rejoin their communities, the sooner all Iraqis can move forward together toward peace and prosperity."

Elsewhere, in north Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad soldiers arrested nine suspected terrorists March 20 after an improvised explosive device exploded between two U.S. military vehicles on patrol.

No one was injured in that attack.

According to military officials, soldiers at an observation post saw a man drop a device and run to a getaway vehicle.

The soldiers followed the vehicle to a town nearby and arrested five men after a search of two nearby houses. Four other suspects inside the houses also were arrested.

Inside one of the houses soldiers found four artillery rounds, three AK-47 assault rifles, a shotgun, two propane tanks and two car batteries, the military reported.

Finally during a raid on a house March 18, Iraqi forces captured 10 people who later confessed to planning and executing a series of recent attacks, one of which killed three people. In one of the attacks, insurgents detonated a dump truck full of explosives near the Iraq Ministry of Agriculture. The individuals also confessed to a separate attack on a bus that killed an Iraqi infantry officer, a coalition officer and his interpreter. Another attack on a traffic circle in Nasour targeted an Iraqi officer and members of the security advisors office.

Military officials reported that Iraqi forces also confiscated two vehicles that were in the process of being turned into car bombs and a cache of weapons, including two grenades, four rockets and launchers, several small arms, detonation cord, remote-control devices and other items used to make bombs.

In addition, Iraqi forces seized $8,480 in U.S. currency, 375,000 Iraqi dinars, five blank Iraqi passports, forged Iraqi national identification cards, cell phones and cameras.

No injuries were reported as a result of the operation. (Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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