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U.S. Soldier Killed in Ambush

U.S. Soldier Killed in Ambush

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded Tuesday in an ambush along a dangerous road north of Baghdad in the "Sunni Triangle," the U.S. military reported.

Far to the north, a big gun battle broke out when U.S. soldiers surrounded a house in Mosul belonging to a cousin of Saddam Hussein, according to an Associated Press Television News cameraman at the scene.

The soldier's death brought to 153 the number of U.S. troops killed in action since the March 20 start of war -- six more than during the 1991 Gulf War.

Central Command in Tampa, Fla., said the attackers used rocket-propelled grenades and small arms in the assault staged along the road between Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital.

Both towns lie within the "Sunni Triangle," so named because it is home to much of the remaining support for ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim who used his Baathist Party to oppress the country's Shiite Muslim majority.

The military had no other details on the attack, many of which lately have been staged with remote-controlled roadside explosions.

The APTN cameraman in Mosul, 280 miles north of Baghdad, said residents told him the Americans were at the house looking for Saddam's sons, Udai and Qusai. There was no way to confirm that report. The house belonged to a cousin of Saddam who is a key tribal leader in the region.

The U.S. military said it was checking the report.

The United States has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam's capture. The reward for his sons, Udai and Qusai, is $15 million.

Meanwhile, in a move to ease fears among exporters to Iraq, the U.S. occupation administration has set up a trading bank to guarantee payment for imported goods and services, especially food and materials needed in reconstruction.

The U.S. administration said it established the bank Tuesday "to bolster confidence between trading partners that funds will be received in exchange for goods delivered."

Outside firms have been hesitant to do business with Iraq, which had been under stiff U.N. economic sanctions since invading Kuwait in 1990, out of worries about being paid.

The new Trade Bank of Iraq, the coalition civilian administration said, will have a pool of $100 million to draw from, with an initial capitalization of $5 million. The bank president will be the finance minister once one is named by the Iraqi Governing Council, hand-picked by L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian authority in the country.

The money to support the bank comes from the $1.2 billion Development Fund for Iraq set up by the United States with United Nations approval of the American occupation plan.

It is hoped the new bank will expedite the purchase of materials needed for rebuilding Iraq, including power generators, sewage pipes and oil field equipment.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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