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Military Officials in Iraq Call Kidnap Reports 'Unfounded'

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2004 – Military officials in Baghdad, Iraq, said today that news reports of a U.S. servicemember being kidnapped near Samarra are not true.

A written statement issued from Multinational Force Iraq headquarters said from the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team have accounted for all soldiers operating in the city of Samarra. "Previous reports of a kidnapped soldier are unfounded," the statement said.

As Election Day progresses in the United States, operations continue in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, officials announced that one U.S. soldier was killed and two were wounded Nov. 1 in actions in Paktika province.

Anti-coalition forces attacked a convoy distributing funds to Afghan construction contractors as part of the Overseas Disaster and Civilian Assistance program, officials said.

The two injured soldiers were flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where one soldier was reported in serious condition and the other in stable condition.

A U.S. Air Force crew using precision weapons destroyed what military officials called a known enemy cache site Nov. 1 on the southeast side of Fallujah, Nov. 1.

Also in Iraq, officials announced that 89 projects worth more than $3.2 million are currently underway or have been completed in Qadisiyah province since August. The area, south of Baghdad, is a Shiia-dominated region. Iraqi interim government officials said they hope the money will stimulate the economy.

The majority of projects are contracted to local businessmen and local laborers to develop and keep the wealth in the area. Funding for all projects comes from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit Commander's Emergency Response Program, which is allocated to the Defense Department by U.S. Congress.

The projects aim to repair damage caused during Operation Iraqi Freedom and restore the region's run-down infrastructure. "There is some battle damage, but the majority are things that were put in 30 to 40 years ago that are just plain worn out," said Army Maj. Ken Booth, officer in charge, Detachment 1, Company C, 451st Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to the 11th MEU.

Projects are improving conditions in public education; essential services such as water, electricity and parking; governance; public health the economy; and general quality of life.

"Our goals are to legitimize the government, improve the local infrastructure, improve the local economy and support the elections," Booth said. "Every project we do we more or less (tries) to fit in one of those categories."

"We want to improve the quality of life for the people of Ad Qadisiyah and An Najaf provinces," said Col. Anthony M. Haslam, commanding officer, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "It's important to ensure essential services are available to the people here so they can lead comfortable, productive lives in a free society."

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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