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Iraqi interim official arrested in U.S. crackdown

U.S. forces arrest a man Monday in Baghdad as part of a sweep against Iraqi resistance.
U.S. forces arrest a man Monday in Baghdad as part of a sweep against Iraqi resistance.

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The U.S. military has launched Operation Sidewinder, the latest attempt to crush Saddam Hussein loyalists in Iraq. CNN's Chris Plante reports. (June 30)
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An Iraqi says his wife, a power company worker, was killed because she shook hands with U.S. troops. CNN's Nic Robertson reports. (June 29)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. troops arrested the interim governor of Najaf on kidnapping and corruption charges Monday as they continued efforts to quell attacks on coalition troops in Iraq.

The arrest of Abu Haydar Abdul Mun'im "demonstrates the coalition's determination to enforce the rule of law in Iraq," a statement from the U.S.-led provisional authority said. Mun'im's deputy will replace him as interim governor, the statement said.

Mun'im is accused of kidnapping and holding hostages, pressuring government employees to perform financial crimes, attacking a bank official and stealing funds, the statement said. Details of the charges were not released.

He was arrested at the request of Iraqi court officials in Najaf, south of Baghdad, and will be tried under Iraqi law, according to the coalition provisional authority.

"They have been investigating these allegations for some time before concluding that there is sufficient evidence to warrant arrest," the authority's statement said.

U.S. authorities have struggled to restore order in Iraq since ousting former leader Saddam Hussein in April. Remnants of Saddam's ruling Baath Party and other groups are blamed for attacks on coalition forces that have killed 23 Americans and six British soldiers since President Bush declared the end of major combat May 1.

In the latest attack, Iraqis fired a rocket-propelled grenade at U.S. troops late Sunday in the central city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad. No troops were injured, but a free-lance sound technician for NBC was wounded and treated in an Army hospital after the attack, an NBC spokesman said. NBC identified the technician as Australian Jeremy Little.

Shortly afterward, three civilians were killed when their truck slammed into a fire support vehicle responding to the attack, the U.S. military said.

Soldiers from the Army's 4th Infantry Division conducted eight raids from late Sunday through Monday as part of Operation Sidewinder, the latest effort to put down remaining Iraqi resistance. Soldiers took 32 people in custody, seized 10 AK-47 rifles, two pistols and a mortar and impounded 8 million Iraqi dinars, U.S. Central Command said.

Operation Sidewinder is focusing on what Central Command officials call "the nexus of paramilitary activity in central Iraq," a 70-mile (112-kilometer) swath of territory running from Baghdad north to Samarra.

In one raid, a man whom U.S. troops identified as a Baath Party colonel was captured with five others, Central Command said.

At the same time, soldiers from the 1st Armored Division moved through Baghdad, arresting 148 people as the Pentagon wrapped up another operation dubbed Desert Scorpion. That operation resulted in 1,300 arrests and the seizure of hundreds of weapons, $9 million in U.S. currency and 1.5 billion Iraqi dinars, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that U.S. forces still face "pockets of resistance" in Iraq but said U.S. officials see no signs of nationwide, organized resistance.

"I think as the situation improves, and as people see that the economy is starting and as the political process picks up and Iraqis start to take responsibility for their own future, I think this will come under control," Powell told NBC.

Other developments

• Amnesty International issued a report Monday about the treatment Iraqi detainees are receiving at a camp at Baghdad International Airport. The human rights group called for lifting a ban that prohibits detainees from having visitors and consulting attorneys. (Full story)

• The U.S. military returned five Syrian guards to their country Sunday. Three of the men were wounded June 18 when U.S. Special Forces attacked a convoy suspected of carrying Iraqis trying to escape into Syria, U.S. military sources said.

CNN Correspondents Chris Plante, Nic Robertson and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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