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Fallujah attack injures 7 soldiers


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CNN's Karl Penhaul on clashes in the central Iraqi town of Fallujah.
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FALLUJAH, Iraq (CNN) -- In the third day of violence in Fallujah, a group of Iraqis using grenades and small arms attacked U.S. soldiers early Thursday, wounding seven, the U.S. Central Command said.

Five required medical condition, and all were in stable condition, according to a Central Command statement.

It was not immediately clear whether any Iraqis died in the incident.

A U.S. military official in Baghdad said there is evidence that the ongoing violence in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, is part of an orchestrated effort against U.S. forces by former ruling Baath Party officials.

"The incidents in Fallujah, while unfortunate, showed a distinct pattern and appear to be orchestrated," said the Army V Corps chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Daniel Hahn.

"We have information that former Baath Party members remain in Fallujah and are organizing small groups to demonstrate against coalition forces. These outside agitators then use the demonstrating crowds as cover as they fire on coalition forces."

In the attack early Thursday, a group of Iraqis tossed two grenades over a wall outside a two-story U.S. military compound, military sources said.

"They tossed the grenades over the back wall where our vehicles are," one of the military officers at the compound said.

The compound is manned by a company of soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Hahn said the soldiers were evacuated from the compound after the incident.

Fighting in the town began Monday, when several hundred Iraqis approached soldiers to demand that they leave a school the soldiers had been using as their base. In an ensuing fight, 15 Iraqis were killed and more than 50 wounded.

U.S. Central Command said protesters fired first, but the Iraqis said the soldiers were unprovoked.

Hahn said soldiers in Fallujah indicated there were at least 20 armed individuals in the crowd Monday, adding that the Army is working on crowd control tactics.

On Wednesday, protesters demonstrating over Monday's clash got into a fight with U.S. forces. U.S. military officials said the protesters fired weapons and threw rocks at a U.S. convoy, which fired into the crowd, killing two people and wounding 15.

-- CNN Correspondent Karl Penhaul contributed to this report


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