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CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar (AP) -- U.S. soldiers trying to stop looting in Baghdad ran into a huge cache of cash -- more than $600 million in $100 dollar bills hidden behind a false wall.
Using forklifts to handle the heavy, tightly-wrapped packets of new bills, soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division hauled the money away for safekeeping, the U.S. Central Command confirmed Tuesday. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the 3rd Infantry found $656 million in a Tigris River neighborhood where senior Baath party and Republican Guard officials lived.
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy operations director at Central Command, also confirmed that U.S. troops have negotiated a cease-fire with the People's Mujahedeen, a group supported by Saddam Hussein's regime that has been fighting to overthrow the government of Iran for 17 years.
Members of the militia were moving their vehicles into temporary military facilities around Baqubah, about 25 miles northeast of Baghdad.
The United States and the European Union have classified the Mujahedeen as a terrorist group.
Security issues continue to be a major concern. U.S. forces have found over 800 suicide vests in several locations, Brooks said.
"Coalition forces are finding or being guided to caches of improvised explosive devices," he said. "We remain concerned about the possibility of suicide attacks."
Explosives had been inserted into the vests' pockets or sometimes sewn into the fabric. Some of the vests had packets containing ball bearings to increase the lethal effect of the explosives.
"The finding of such devices reinforces the reality that terrorist tactics and actions were certainly supported by the regime," he said. "Further, it reinforces the need for deliberate work to root out the terrorists that are still present in Iraq."
Regular objects were also being converted into deadly devices, such as marble-looking coffee tables packed with explosives that can be detonated by remote control, Brooks said.
In northern Iraq, he said, U.S. troops encountered small arms fire near the city of Mosul and at an airfield just to the west of it. The attack was repulsed, but the assailants escaped.
Brooks also noted that while many hospitals and clinics in Iraq had little power or medical supplies, Saddam's regime had plenty of generators and medicines available but never delivered them.
In warehouses operated by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, U.S. forces found more generators and spare generator parts than they had expected, along with plenty of medical supplies.
"There are enough supplies here ... to make immediate impact on the condition of several medical facilities," Brooks said, adding that coalition forces will deliver the supplies to hospitals.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)