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Developments in Iraq on Sunday
* Bloodied by weeks of suicide bombings and assassinations, Iraqi security forces emerged Sunday to patrol Samarra after a morale-boosting victory in this Sunni Triangle city, and U.S. commanders praised their performance. On Sunday, residents said they heard sporadic explosions as U.S. and Iraqi forces hunted for rebel holdouts in an otherwise calmer Samarra. Iraqi police patrolled the city, while American soldiers and Iraqi National Guard members searched houses for insurgents and weapons.
Of the 70 dead brought to Samarra General Hospital since fighting erupted, 23 were children and 18 were women, hospital official Abdul-Nasser Hamed Yassin said. Another 160 wounded people also were treated.
Twelve miles south of Baghdad, two bodies -- those of a woman and a man whose head was severed -- were found, with police saying the corpses looked like those of Westerners. Police Lt. Hussein Rizouqi said no identification was found on the corpses. The woman, who was shot in the head, had blond hair, he said.
A Lebanese electrical company appealed to Iraqi kidnappers to release two employees seized last week, saying they were not working with U.S. forces. The men were among 10 people seized by a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq -- the same group that claimed responsibility for abducting two French journalists last month.
U.S. warplanes hammered another rebel-held city, Fallujah, the latest strike in weeks of attacks targeting groups linked to terrorists, particularly the network of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The city hospital said two people were killed and 12 were wounded in the airstrikes. Two more people, a man and his wife, were killed and two others were wounded when a tank fired on a house, Dr. Rafe al-Issawi said.
U.S. military officials have signaled they plan to step up attacks into key Iraqi cities this fall -- partly as a way to pressure insurgents into negotiating with Iraqi officials. "I have personally informed [Fallujah residents] that it will not be a picnic. It will be very difficult and devastating," Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer said Sunday on the Al-Arabiya television network.
In Baghdad's Sadr City slum, five Iraqi civilians were wounded by U.S. tank fire, hospital officials said. The U.S. military had no immediate information. The area has seen daily clashes and shelling as U.S. and Iraqi forces attempt to root out fighters loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Near Ramadi, a U.S. military vehicle hit a roadside bomb but there were no casualties. However, witnesses said U.S. gunfire killed one woman in a farm near the scene of the explosion.
-- The Associated Press