Seven U.S. soldiers in Iraq wounded in series of attacks

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A blistering series of attacks, coming nearly hourly, wounded seven U.S. soldiers in Iraq on Tuesday, and the United States offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who kills a coalition soldier or Iraqi policeman.

The reward is aimed at stemming an insurgency that has plagued efforts to restore security and basic services. Last week, the U.S.-led provisional authority put a $25 million bounty on the head of Saddam Hussein, and a $15 million reward for the capture of either of the ousted dictator's two sons.

Kerik, who is in charge of security in Iraq, also said U.S. forces and Iraqi police had arrested Sabah Mirza, who was a bodyguard for Saddam in the 1980s before being fired. A raid on Mirza's farm after his June 26 arrest netted plastic explosives, mortars, a machine gun and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

U.S. soldiers raided a building in central Baghdad on Tuesday, following up on a claim by residents who say they thought they saw Saddam driving through the area Monday to cheers and celebratory gunfire.

During the sweep, several residents chanted pro-Saddam slogans and others sang: "With our souls and our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you Saddam."

Saddam sighting in April

The last reported sighting of Saddam was April 9 in the Azamiyah neighborhood of northeastern Baghdad as the capital fell to the U.S.-led coalition.

L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq, said the coalition would not rest until Saddam's fate was determined.

"He may be alive, but he is not coming back," Bremer said. "I think the noose is going to tighten around his neck. His days in Iraq are finished."

Tuesday brought fresh attacks in what has become a bloody and uncertain peace for coalition forces.

Since President Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on May 1, 29 U.S. servicemen have been killed by hostile fire and 44 others have died in accidents and other non-hostile circumstances, a total of 73.

Two Arabic television stations aired an audiotape purportedly of Saddam Hussein that they claimed to be new. But journalists familiar with the tape said it sounded remarkably similar to an audiotaped message that surfaced in May.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq and dismissed concerns he had overplayed the threat posed by Saddam in the run-up to the war. And the White House acknowledged Bush was incorrect when he said in January that Iraq recently had sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa.

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