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U.S. troops detain attack suspects in Iraq

U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division inspect rockets, which were taken from Iraqi insurgents in Tikrit on  Monday.
U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division inspect rockets, which were taken from Iraqi insurgents in Tikrit on Monday.

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TIKRIT, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces have detained four suspects in an attack on a convoy in northern Iraq that wounded three U.S. soldiers, an Army official said.

The convoy was conducting a routine escort mission Sunday for U.S. government contractors when an improvised explosive device went off near the town of Baiji.

The official with the 4th Infantry Division said troops cordoned off the area and raided two homes, where they found bomb-making materials, weapons and plastic explosives.

A woman questioned during the raid "gave up information" that led to the suspects, the official said.

The three soldiers were hit with shrapnel from the blast. One was transported to a military base in Germany for medical care and another was in stable condition after eye surgery and is expected also to be flown to Germany. The third has returned to active duty, the military official said.

In another IED attack Sunday in the city of Tikrit, an interpreter working with U.S. forces suffered superficial wounds. Soldiers spotted a suspect fleeing the scene and their convoy was able to pull over to the opposite side of the road before the blast.

The suspect was captured by another convoy operating in the area.

In a third attack -- also in Tikrit on Sunday -- a U.S. service member was shot in the abdomen, a U.S. military official said. The service member was recovering from the wound. The Tikrit region -- home to the family of Saddam Hussein -- is a known center for anti-coalition insurgents and Saddam supporters.

Meanwhile, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Monday that British troops will likely remain in Iraq for several years after a planned transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition to an Iraqi authority. Straw said he had no reason to believe power would not be transferred by July 1, as agreed by the occupation authority and the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. (Full story)

Some 10,000 UK forces are stationed in and around Basra in southern Iraq.

Straw's comments came a day after a surprise visit to British troops in Basra by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair arrived by military aircraft from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he and his family were on vacation, according to a Downing Street spokesman.

During his day-long visit, Blair delivered a speech to British soldiers praising them and visited an Iraqi police training camp. There, he watched British soldiers teaching self-defense techniques to Iraqi police trainees. (Full story)

Other developments

• Three American soldiers have been discharged from military service for abusing Iraqi prisoners, the U.S. Army said Monday. The soldiers served as military police with a unit from Pennsylvania that is deployed to Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. In addition to being discharged, two of the soldiers had their ranks lowered and all three were ordered to forfeit pay for two months. (Full story)

• Insurgents opened fire late Sunday the 4th Infantry's Forward Operating Base Raider in Tikrit. A military official said the attackers fired two bursts of small arms fire from the east bank of the Tigris River, and said they were out of range of their weapons. There were no injuries reported.

• Britain's Ministry of Defense announced Monday that two British soldiers were killed January 1 in a traffic accident. The soldiers were identified as Maj. James Stenner, 30, of the Welsh Guards and 28-year-old Sgt. Norman Patterson of the Cheshire Regiment. No other details on the accident were released.


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