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'Targeted Leader' Arrested in Iraq

'Targeted Leader' Arrested in Iraq

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(Baghdad, Iraq-AP) -- A "targeted leader" is among two dozen people arrested by U-S forces in Iraq today.

U-S Central Command says those arrested are loyalists of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The U.S. Central Command said Sunday's raids by the 3rd Armored Cavalry in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" west and north of the capital netted "24 regime loyalists, including a targeted leader." It provided no details on the identities of the captives.

Meanwhile, the U-S military reported no fatal attacks on American soldiers in Iraq today, for the second straight day.

An Iraqi contract worker for the U.N. Development Program suffered minor injuries when his car hit a land mine on the road from Baghdad International Airport to the city center.

The explosion, which set the car ablaze, came shortly after the driver passed a convoy of three U.S. Humvees traveling the same road, which has been the scene of many recent attacks on American soldiers.

The American occupation authority also reported settling 1,168 claims totaling $262,263 brought by Iraqis for deaths, injuries or property damage by American forces.

Representatives of the U.S. Judge Advocate General's office in the Iraqi capital said it had received more than 2,500 claims for compensation and had dealt with nearly 1,500, rejecting about 20 percent as having no foundation.

Violence against U.S. soldiers spiked after the July 22 raid in which Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, a bodyguard and a 14-year-old grandson were killed by American forces in a gun battle at a villa in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad.

The three Saddam relatives were buried Saturday in a village just outside Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1, 52 U.S. soldiers have been killed in guerrilla attacks, bringing combat deaths in the war to 167, 20 more than in the 1991 Gulf War.

The U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, has blamed the attacks on four groups -- loyalists of Saddam's Baath Party, the Fedayeen Saddam militia, members of the ousted and once-feared security forces and foreign terrorists.

U.S. officials have increasingly laid blame for the violence on foreign fighters, suggesting guerrilla tactics now being used are similar to those employed by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

While speaking of a larger foreign presence, the officials have not given an estimate of how large it is.

Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, meanwhile, continued to work on the appointment of new ministers to run government departments.

A council spokesman said no names had been chosen, because the governing body was waiting for a fuller report from the American administrators who have been running the various ministries since shortly after Saddam's ouster on April 9.

"There is no problem regarding the naming of the ministers, but we need to know the present situation of the ministries, for example, which ministries should be operating and which should not, the staff working in the ministries and the condition of the buildings," council spokesman Hoshyar Zebari said.

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

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