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Baghdad officials targeted

Iraq warns of more suicide bombings

Blasts lit up the night sky over Baghdad late Saturday.
Blasts lit up the night sky over Baghdad late Saturday.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Coalition forces have repeatedly pounded a residential area of Baghdad where many government officials live, in some of the heaviest bombing to hit the capital since the war began.

The area is usually off-limits to ordinary Iraqis, CNN Correspondent Nic Robertson said, although it was possible the government might have located air raid shelters there.

Iraqi troops fought back with anti-aircraft fire, and insisted the bombings have not dislodged President Saddam Hussein, who was shown on Iraqi TV with advisers Saturday.

Meanwhile, Iraq's vice president has warned of more suicide attacks after an Iraqi military officer carried out a suicide bombing that killed four U.S. soldiers Saturday.

Taha Yassin Ramadan warned that Baghdad could send a single "martyr" to kill thousands of people.

"This is only the beginning and you will hear more good news in the coming days," he told a Baghdad news conference Saturday. "These bastards will be welcomed at the level and in the way they deserve."(Full story)

The U.S. soldiers, with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, were killed when a suicide bomber in a taxi attacked a military checkpoint in the central Iraqi town of Najaf, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said. (Full story)

The suicide bombing was the first against U.S. and British forces since the war began.

As coalition troops counter Iraqi resistance in the south of the country, a Pentagon official said American troops had found bloodied U.S. battle fatigues believed to be those of some of an ambushed Army maintenance unit in a hospital in Nasiriya.

Nasiriya has been the scene of the fiercest fighting the Marines have been involved in since Vietnam, senior troops told CNN.

The uniforms, found by U.S. troops who took over the hospital, appeared to have had their name tags and flag patches ripped off, perhaps to hide the identity of their owners, the official said.

The troops also discovered what appeared to be a torture device made of a metal cot and a car battery.

The find comes after U.S. Marines launched a daybreak attack using Cobra helicopter gunships, tanks, armored vehicles, mortars and artillery against the Iraqi resistance in Nasiriya.

Reports from the fighting indicated that several Iraqi tanks had been destroyed. (Full story)

Ten days into "Operation Iraqi Freedom," the British military's main focus is to eradicate Iraq's ruling Baath Party within the Basra province, British military spokesman Col. Chris Vernon said Saturday.

"Our seizing of a senior Baathist official has rocked their confidence and provided an excellence insight into that mire," Vernon said of the Iraqi regime. "And both their headquarters in Az Zubayr and Basra no longer exists." (Full story)

Two U.S. Air Force F-15E fighters bombed a building in Basra containing an estimated 200 Iraqi loyalists, the U.S. Central Command said. (Full story)

U.S. President George W. Bush said Saturday the world had seen first hand "the cruel nature" of the Iraqi leader's "dying regime."

Every atrocity, he said, "has confirmed the justice and urgency" of the coalition's cause in Iraq. "We expect such war crimes, but we will not excuse them." (Full story)

Meanwhile, Iraq's minister of information on Saturday called Bush a war criminal and said Iraq was encouraging legal experts from Arab and European countries to sue the U.S. president.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf also told reporters that coalition troops are like a "boa snake" heading toward Baghdad. "We are going to cut this snake in pieces," he said.

He denied coalition accusations that Iraqi soldiers have tried to disguise themselves as civilians in the war.

It is "cheap propaganda" that Iraqi soldiers are disguising themselves in civilian clothing, he said. "There are no Iraqis disguising themselves."

Al-Sahaf, speaking at midday Saturday, said 68 Iraqis were killed and 107 wounded in coalition airstrikes on Baghdad in the past day.

Iraq's state-run television reported Saturday that 357 Iraqi citizens have been killed and 3,650 injured in 10 days of war, including Friday's market bombing. There was no mention of the number of casualties from the Iraqi army.

Other developments

• The bodies of 10 British military service members killed in a "friendly fire" incident and a helicopter collision last week returned to British soil Saturday in a solemn ceremony at Brize Norton Royal Air Force Base in Gloucestershire. (Full story)

• U.S. ships in the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea have stopped firing cruise missiles at Iraq after Turkey and Saudi Arabia complained that some of them have fallen on their territory, a Pentagon official said. (Full story)

• The Syrian Foreign Ministry disputed U.S. allegations that military equipment was being smuggled from Syria to Iraq, and said such comments "try to put the entire region ablaze."

• A senior member of an Iraqi opposition group based in Iran denied U.S. claims that the Badr Corps, his group's military wing operating in Iraq, receives training in Iran, according to Iran's state-run news agency. (Full story)

• In northern Iraq, U.S.-led airstrikes targeted Iraqi troops along a ridge near a Kurdish-controlled area for a second day, following overnight attacks on the nearby city of Mosul. (Full story)

• A British ship carrying nearly 200 tons of humanitarian supplies arrived at the port city of Umm Qasr, a day after concerns about mines delayed its arrival. (Full story, audio slide show on the aid delays)

Fleeing
Iraqis pass a British tank as they flee Basra.

• According to the latest figures compiled by CNN, a total of 57 coalition service members have died in the war. (Casualty figures)

CNN correspondents Diana Muriel, Christiane Amanpour, Tom Mintier, Nic Robertson, Walter Rodgers, Brent Sadler, Martin Savidge, Barbara Starr and Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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