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US bombs target Fallujah militants

10 people reported killed in airstrike

BAGHDAD -- US forces dropped two tons of bombs on a purported militant safehouse in Fallujah, killing at least 10 people, according to officials, and turning the building into a 30-foot-deep pit of sand and rubble.

The attack was the fifth airstrike in the past two weeks in an area where the US military says there are safehouses used by members of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network.

Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of Iraq issued an unprecedented statement saying that his government provided the US military with intelligence for the strike.

The interim government has been trying to figure out how to deal with the insurgents, and the airstrike took place just hours after it postponed an announcement of new security laws to deal with them.

In Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, rescue workers picked up body parts, witnesses said. Men gathered at the pit where the house had been and pulled out clothes, including a young child's shirt, from the rubble.

"Is this acceptable to the Iraqi government?" asked an angry man at the scene, who declined to identify himself. "Where are human rights?"

Dr. Diaa Jumaili of Fallujah Hospital said 10 bodies had arrived there, most of them dismembered. Previous US airstrikes in Fallujah have killed dozens.

The military said it had dropped four 500-pound bombs and two 1,000-pound bombs. The attack used guided weapons and underscored the resolve of coalition and Iraqi forces "to jointly destroy terrorist networks within Iraq," the military said.

Zarqawi, said to be connected to Al Qaeda, is believed to be behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before US forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government. The attacks have led to fears that religious fanatics and Saddam Hussein loyalists may be joining forces to fight both the multinational force and the new Iraqi government.

Allawi has promised tough measures against the insurgents, who have been creating chaos here since the fall of Hussein's regime 14 months ago.

The announced cooperation with the airstrike appeared to be a first step toward that.

In a statement soon after the attack, Allawi said Iraqi forces provided the intelligence for the location of the Zarqawi safehouse so the strike could "terminate those terrorists, whose booby-trapped cars and explosive belts have harvested the souls of innocent Iraqis without discrimination, destroying Iraqi schools, hospitals, and police stations."

Allawi appealed to all Iraqis to report the activities of insurgents.

"The sovereign Iraqi people and our international partners are adamant that we will put an end to terrorism and chase those corrupt terrorists and will uproot them one by one," he said.

Earlier in the day, Iraqi officials canceled a press conference Monday in which they had been expected to announce a limited amnesty for insurgents and martial law in parts of the country.

Just as it was scheduled to begin, the press conference with Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan and Human Rights Minister Bakhtiyar Amin was postponed indefinitely.

The government had canceled a previous press conference on the same topic, suggesting there is disagreement within the government over the measures.

Allawi also said yesterday that he wouldn't interfere with an Iraqi tribunal's right to decide whether Hussein and his top lieutenants should be executed for war crimes.

In an interview with the Arab language television station Al-Arabiya, Allawi said he was willing to abide by whatever the court decided in the trial, which is not expected to begin for months. Iraq assumed legal custody of Hussein from the United States last week and reinstituted the death penalty, which had been suspended by US occupation authorities.

"As for the execution, that is for the court to decide, so long as a decision is reached impartially and fairly," he said.

Thousands of Kurds demonstrated yesterday in Halabja, demanding that Hussein and one of his key lieutenants -- Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali" -- be put to death for an attack that killed 5,000 people there on March 16, 1988.

In southern Iraq yesterday, insurgents fired rockets at a government building in Basra but instead struck nearby houses, killing one person and wounding eight others, police said.

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