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Iraqi Guerrillas Kill Two U.S. Soldiers

Iraqi Guerrillas Kill Two U.S. Soldiers

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TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) -- Guerrillas killed two American soldiers north of Baghdad, and U.S. forces said Wednesday they were holding two key members of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard and a paymaster for his feared Fedayeen militia.

An attack 15 miles south of Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, killed one U.S. soldier and wounded a second Wednesday when their four-vehicle convoy hit a roadside bomb, according to Maj. Josslyn Aberle, spokeswoman for the 4th Infantry Division.

The military also reported a soldier killed and two wounded in a bomb attack Tuesday near Taji, 12 miles north of the capital. The attack was in the same region where an oil pipeline fire sent flames 200 feet into the air.

It was unclear whether Tuesday's fire was the work of saboteurs. Many pipelines across Iraq have been hit by guerrillas seeking to destabilize U.S. reconstruction efforts.

The military also reported killing two Iraqis in separate incidents in the Baqouba region, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad. Aberle said the two were killed after firing on U.S. troops.

Officials at the 4th Infantry Division said they had released 10 men detained Tuesday in a sweep through the outskirts of Tikrit, but four remained in custody.

The military has not made public the names of those held but said they include a Republican Guard corps-level chief of staff, a Republican Guard division commander and a paymaster for the Fedayeen militia.

All those detained were members of a family described as a pillar of support for the ousted regime, said U.S. Lt. Col. Steve Russell.

"They were trying to support the remnants of the former regime by organizing attacks, through funding and by trying to hide former regime members," he said.

Also Wednesday, the U.S.-led coalition said it had sent in 6.6 million gallons of gasoline, much of it to southern Iraq. Fuel and power shortages had been particularly acute in the southern city of Basra, where weekend protests left at least three people dead.

"There is no shortage of petrol and we are able to fully meet the demand," coalition spokesman Charles Heatly said.

The American administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, met Wednesday with the U.S.-picked Governing Council about local efforts on restarting the shattered economy and creating jobs, Heatly said.

Bremer also urged the 25-member council to submit names for the so-called "de-Baathification council," which is charged with purging government offices of Saddam's Baath Party.

Heatly said the coalition has fulfilled a number of goals, including establishment of the Governing Council, which on Monday appointed a committee to study ways of writing a democratic constitution.

The spokesman said the benchmark for the departure of U.S.-led forces "remains having Iraqi people write a new constitution for this country and having it approved in a referendum, holding democratic elections and then hand over power to a sovereign, elected Iraqi government."

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

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