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U.S. Doubts al Qaeda Kidnapping Claim

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2005 – A full accountability check is under way today following what is believed to be a false al Qaeda claim of having kidnapped two U.S. Marines in western Iraq, Multinational Force Iraq officials said today.

A statement posted today on a Web site used by al Qaeda asserts the kidnappings and issues a 24-hour ultimatum to U.S. forces to release female Sunni Muslim prisoners, press reports said.

Military officials said there are no indications that the claims are true, but Multinational Force West is conducting checks to verify that all Marines are accounted for, officials said.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

The al Qaeda claim comes during Operation Kabda bil Hadid, or "Iron Fist," an offensive involving some 1,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors from Regimental Combat Team 2 cracking down on insurgents operating in Western Iraq.

The troops are engaging numerous terrorists in and around Sa'dah, some 12 kilometers east of the Syrian border, officials said.

Earlier today, terrorists forcibly entered and building and began firing on Marines, officials said. Unable to suppress the fire, the Marines fired one round from an M1A1 Abrams tank into the building, injuring five civilians. Officials said four of the civilians were treated for minor injuries and released and one was evacuated to Baghdad, where he is reported to be in stable condition.

This afternoon, a suicide bomber prematurely detonated his vehicle, killing one terrorist, officials said.

Shortly after, near Karabilah, Marines were engaged by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire from a building. They returned fire, killing eight terrorists, officials said.

Coalition forces have detained four terrorists, officials said, and no Marine casualties or kidnappings have been reported.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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