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Vigilante group warns al-Zarqawi

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- An armed vigilante group threatened on Tuesday to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for insurgency attacks that have killed Iraqis, making the first internal threat against the Jordanian militant.

Insurgents detonated a car bomb that killed 14 Iraqis, underscoring their determination to carry out attacks a week after the U.S. transferred power to an interim government led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The car bomb in the town of Khalis tore through a tent packed with hundreds of Iraqis mourning a man killed in an assassination attempt of a local official by insurgents days earlier.

Elsewhere, seven U.S. Marines assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force were killed in western Iraq, the military said. Two died in action Monday, while a third died of his wounds Monday. Four other Marines were killed Tuesday while conducting security and stability operations.

The emergence of the vigilante group potentially brings a new element into the Iraqi insurgency, highlighting internal opposition to al-Zarqawi, who is believed to have links to al-Qaida.

Meanwhile, the family of Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun said they had received word the Lebanese-American had been freed by his captors. A Lebanese government official said Hassoun was released after promising to leave the U.S. military. However, his whereabouts remained unknown.

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