US airstrikes leave 11 dead in Iraq

Published October 13, 2004

FALLUJAH, Oct 12: US planes hammered guerilla positions in of Fallujah and Ramadi on Tuesday, killing 11 people, as the disarming of Shia militiamen gathered pace in Baghdad despite US warnings of internal rifts.

As the US military went on the offensive in the Sunni heartland of Iraq, an Al Qaeda-linked group, Ansar al Sunna, posted a video on the Internet showing the beheading of an Iraqi man it accused of spying for US forces. But 10 former Turkish hostages arrived in Baghdad after being released by their kidnappers, despite their employer defying their demands and vowing his construction firm would stay in Iraq.

In Fallujah, US warplanes struck the epicentre of the resistance three times during the day and raided at least seven mosques in Ramadi, arresting a religious figure. The marines dropped a 250-kilo bomb on guerillas on the eastern fringes of the city after a firefight, a military spokesman said.

A first raid targeted Al Haj Hussein restaurant in central Fallujah, famous across central Iraq for its kebabs. Four people were killed and six wounded, including restaurant staff, hospital sources said.

The US military said it was a known meeting place for Iraq's most wanted militant Abu Mussab al Zarqawi's radical Unity and Holy War group. Four hours later, US aircraft returned to strike the battle-scarred city, destroying a suspected Zarqawi hideaway.

In the Al Anbar province, US marines and Iraqi forces carried out pre-dawn raids on at least seven mosques, sparking shootouts in which two Iraqis were killed. -AFP

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