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Three G.I.s Killed in Iraq

Three G.I.s Killed in Iraq

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A grenade attack Saturday killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded four as they guarded a children's hospital northeast of Baghdad, scuttling hopes a widespread guerrilla insurgency might lose strength after the deaths of Saddam Hussein's elder sons.

In Mosul, engineers with the 101st Airborne Division tore down the badly damaged villa where Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed Tuesday in a four-hour gunbattle with U.S. forces.

The home belonged to Sheik Nawaf al-Zaydan Muhhamad, a regional tribal leader and Saddam cousin who neighbors said tipped American troops that the Hussein brothers were at his house.

The U.S. occupation administration had offered $15 million each for information leading to Saddam's wanted sons and $25 million for Saddam. It was believed, although not confirmed by occupation military commanders, that Muhhamad was in protective custody.

Since the killings of Odai and Qusai, the U.S. military said more Iraqi informants have been coming forward with tips. And with the arrest Friday of some of Saddam's bodyguards in Tikrit, his hometown and powerbase, American forces say they are closing in on the deposed dictator.

The soldiers killed Saturday were part of the 4th Infantry Division, which came under grenade attack in Baqouba, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad. Witnesses told an Associated Press photographer that the soldiers were guarding the hospital because some of their wounded comrades were being treated there.

Maj. William Thurmond, a coalition military spokesman, said three of the injured soldiers were treated and returned to their unit, the fourth evacuated to a military hospital.

The deaths brought to 161 the number of troops killed in action since the start of the war, 14 more than in the 1991 Gulf War. The guerrilla attacks on American forces have averaged 12 a day, according to the military.

In Baghdad, the commander of Iraq's national police academy was wounded while leading a raid against suspected hijackers, police told AP.

Brig. Ahmed Kadhim, 56, was shot in the leg around 1 a.m. while police were trying to arrest five suspected carjackers, said his assistant, Capt. Mushtak Fadhil. Five other police were wounded, one critically, and five men were arrested.

The violence marred an otherwise quiet day as Iraqi civilians continued to debate the authenticity of video images of the bodies of Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37.

The video was shot by journalists who viewed the autopsied bodies Friday, part of a U.S. military effort to convince Iraqi people that the brothers -- two of the most feared men in the ousted regime, second only to Saddam -- were really dead.

The video appeared to have been more believable than still photographs published Thursday of the brothers shortly after being killed. The photos showed only their heads and shoulders, their faces obscured by heavy beards, blood and gashes; the video showed the entire bodies, the faces shaved and reconstructed to appear lifelike.

"When I saw them on TV, I was sorry. I hoped that they hadn't died too quickly," said Yassir Hussain, 45, a day laborer. "Odai took my innocent cousin to prison in 1984. Since then we haven't heard anything about him."

Others said they looked forward to seeing the body of Saddam.

"We were very happy to see their dead bodies on TV, and by the will of God we will see their father's corpse on TV soon," said Halla Karim Numan, a 35-year-old homemaker.

The display appeared to be a calculated gamble by coalition authorities, who may have produced more convincing evidence but also offended Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere by altering the bodies and delaying burial.

Baghdad erupted in celebratory gunfire after news of the brothers' death was reported. The Al-Mutamar newspaper reported Saturday that the bullets falling to the ground killed 31 Iraqis and injured 76 others, though the report could not be confirmed.

Results of the DNA testing on the bodies of Odai and Qusai at a military lab in Washington could be completed by next week. A final report on the deaths is expected in about six weeks, the medical personnel said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Also Saturday, aides to two members of Iraq's American-picked Governing Council said the group would name cabinet ministers and set up a committee to start drafting a constitution within two weeks. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

The aide to Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi Foreign Minister, said the move was an attempt to speed the transition from the American occupation, which he said could be over by the end of 2004. The other source was an assistant to Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, a highly respected Shiite Muslim council member.

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

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