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Bomb Found Near Iraq Mosque; 23 Kidnap Victims Freed

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2006 – Iraqi and coalition forces detonated a bomb in Samarra today and freed 23 kidnap victims yesterday. Earlier this week, combined forces killed three terrorists and detained one.

Iraqi police were patrolling yesterday when they found an improvised explosive device near a Samarra mosque’s doorway.

“This action by the terrorists shows they have no respect for Islam and are only concerned about killing innocent civilians,” said Army Lt. Col. Viet Luong, commander of 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. “This bomb was built to cause maximum damage, and because of the heroic action of the Iraqi police, this damage was minimized.”

Police officials requested assistance from coalition forces and an explosive ordnance disposal team to help secure the area and defuse the bomb. The EOD team was successful in removing the detonation wire and fuse. During their attempt to remove the bomb, however, it exploded and caused minimal damage to the door and entry way. A team of Iraqi police searched the interior of the mosque to ensure no injuries or damage took place.

Yesterday in western Baghdad, Iraqi and coalition forces discovered and freed 23 hostages and arrested six kidnappers.

Combined forces observed kidnappers using two vehicles to block a local bus and force the passengers off. The kidnappers got back into their vehicles and drove in separate directions as Iraqi forces pursued them. The Iraqi soldiers engaged one of the fleeing vehicles just west of a nearby checkpoint, killing one kidnapper and wounding two others with small-arms fire. A kidnap victim was found in the trunk of the suspects’ vehicle.

Iraqi forces followed the other fleeing vehicle until the kidnappers stopped in front of a house nearby. Iraqi forces searched the area for kidnap victims, finding two in the trunk of the vehicle and 20 more inside the house. They detained six kidnappers.

The kidnappers have been identified as Sunnis, but the kidnapping cell leader, a Syrian named Abu Mousan, escaped capture and is at large. Most of the victims are believed to be Shiite and predominately from Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. Some of the victims showed signs of abuse, military officials said. All 23 rescued victims have been transferred to the local Iraqi army headquarters and are receiving medical treatment.

A day earlier in Baghdad, coalition forces killed three terrorists and detained a fourth. The first terrorist was killed when soldiers spotted him on a rooftop aiming a rocket propelled grenade at the patrol in the Furat neighborhood.

The second attack began with small arms fire on a coalition patrol in the Bayaa neighborhood. The patrol fired at a small group of terrorists, killing two and wounding one. The wounded man was evacuated for further medical treatment and is being detained for further questioning.

A total of three assault rifles and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher were recovered from the two attacks.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

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