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AT START OF RAMADAN

US jets target Fallujah in raid

Car bomb kills 10, injures 14 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD -- US jets struck targets yesterday in Fallujah, a Sunni insurgent stronghold, and US officials said 10 people -- including a family of four -- were killed when a car bomb exploded near a Baghdad police station in a bloody start to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

American and Iraqi officials fear a repeat of the surge in attacks that ushered in Ramadan last year. Iraqi Sunni Muslims and many Shi'ites began Ramadan yesterday; other Iraqi Shi'ites start fasting today.

US jets and artillery pounded targets in the southern and eastern part of Fallujah around sundown yesterday as residents were taking the traditional meal that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan.

One resident, Salah Abd, said American troops had sealed off major roads out of the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad, preventing residents from leaving.

There were no reports of casualties from the evening raids. Dr. Rafia Hiyad of the Fallujah General Hospital said three people were killed and seven others injured during attacks the previous night.

In southwest Baghdad, a car packed with 300 pounds of explosives blew up yesterday near a police station.

The US military said 10 civilians were killed, including a family of four driving by when the blast occurred. Iraqi hospital officials said 14 people were wounded.

''This is an act of terrorists," said Lieutenant Colonel James Hutton, a spokesman for the First Cavalry Division.

''These attacks kill innocent Iraqi people trying to live their lives in peace."

US officials indicated the bombing of Fallujah was not a prelude to a major offensive into the city that officials have said they might launch this fall.

The attacks began Thursday after peace talks between the Iraqi officials and city leaders broke down over the government's demand that they hand over terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, believed responsible for suicide bombings and the beheading of foreign hostages.

US troops detained Fallujah's top negotiator in the talks, witnesses said. Khaled al-Jumeili, an Islamic cleric, was arrested as he left a mosque after Friday prayers in a village about 10 miles south of Fallujah, they said.

There was no confirmation from US authorities.

Fallujah fell under control of radical clerics and their armed mujahideen fighters after the Marines lifted their three-week siege of the city in April.

In a statement read yesterday in Sunni mosques in Baghdad and elsewhere, Fallujah clerics threatened a civil disobedience campaign across the country if the Americans try to overrun the city.

The clerics said if civil disobedience is not enough to stop a US assault, they will proclaim a jihad, or holy war, against all US and multinational forces ''as well as those collaborating with them."

They insisted that the Jordanian-born Zarqawi was not in Fallujah, claiming his alleged presence ''is a lie just like the weapons of mass destruction lie."

''Zarqawi has become the pretext for flattening civilians houses and killing innocent civilians," the statement said.

Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group claimed responsibility for Thursday's twin bombings inside Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone, which is home to US officials and the Iraqi leadership. Those attacks killed six people, including four American civilians, and wounded 27 others.

Authorities had put the death toll at 10 but reduced it yesterday after several Iraqis were accounted for.

The group's claim, which could not be verified, was posted on a website known for its Islamic contents.

One of those injured, British contractor Michael Fitzpatrick, said he was sitting in the Green Zone Cafe drinking coffee when ''there was this incredible explosion and I was somersaulting in the air."

''I'm burnt all over. I was in the middle of a giant fireball and I'm alive," he said from his hospital bed. ''I'm so happy to be alive. I just want to go home and go fishing."

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