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Mortar Attack Kills Iraqi Soldiers; Safe Houses Destroyed

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2004 – Four Iraqi soldiers were killed and some 80 others injured today in a mortar attack on an Iraqi National Guard base in Taji, according to Multinational Force Iraq officials in Baghdad.

The attack happened around 9:45 a.m. Coalition military helicopters evacuated the injured to a Multinational Force medical facility for treatment.

Also today, coalition troops once again targeted safe houses and weapons storage facilities in southern Fallujah believed to be operated by terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The strikes occurred between 10:55 p.m. Oct. 18 and 12:31 a.m. Oct. 19. Multiple secondary explosions indicate a significant amount of explosives or ammunition was stored inside the houses.

According to military officials, Zarqawi was planning to use foreign suicide bombers in vehicles rigged with explosives in attacks on the Iraqi government and its people, especially during Ramadan. "These pre-emptive strikes will reduce the threat of such attacks," an official said.

Zarqawi is believed to operate several safe houses at locations in Fallujah, and terrorists routinely use such sites to plan attacks against Iraqi citizens and multinational forces.

Multinational Force Iraq officials said recent strikes against Zarqawi's network have killed several of his senior associates and caused numerous reorganizations within the group.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq press releases.)

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