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Coalition recovers 4 mutilated bodies

U.S. looking for anticoalition cleric, militant al Qaeda suspect



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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The unidentified remains of four bodies have been found in Iraq near Baghdad, two U.S. State Department officials said Tuesday.

Efforts are under way to identify the remains, the officials said.

The mutilated bodies were found on the outskirts of the capital, another State Department official said.

The Coalition Provisional Authority has notified the energy-services firm Halliburton Co. of the discovery of the bodies.

Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, employed seven contractors who have gone missing in Iraq, one of whom is confirmed to be a hostage.

Insurgents kidnapped truck driver Thomas Hamill on Friday during an ambush on a fuel convoy near the Baghdad airport, and threatened to kill him if U.S. troops were not withdrawn from Fallujah by last Saturday.

Halliburton has notified the families of the missing men that four bodies have been found but told them no identifications have been made.

"We can not confirm that these are KBR employees," a statement from Halliburton headquarters in Houston, Texas, said.

"While we are not yet certain of the identification of these brave individuals, and no matter who they are, we at Halliburton are saddened to learn of these deaths and are working with the authorities so the families can begin the grieving and healing process."

The third State Department official said the agency also has been in contact with the families of the missing contractors.

Halliburton said it has lost 30 people in Iraq and Kuwait. It employs more than 24,000 people in the region.

It also said Kellogg, Brown & Root has made a joint decision with the U.S. Army to suspend some convoys until additional military security can be put in place.

Forty other people from 12 countries also are being held by Iraqi militants, said Dan Senor, spokesman for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.

He called for the hostages to be released as soon as possible and said there would be no negotiations with the abductors.

Several nations were trying to free the hostages through diplomacy.

The French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that a French journalist was kidnapped in Baghdad.

Also Tuesday, the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera broadcast video of what it said were four Italians who had been kidnapped.

The video showed armed men surrounding four men, who were seated and appeared to be holding their passports.

In another kidnapping, eight employees of a Russian electric power consortium in Iraq were released Tuesday, according to the company's executive director, Alexander Rybinsky. Five of the workers were Ukrainians. The other three were Russians. They were said to be in good condition.

Rybinsky said a group of masked, armed men stormed into a company building Monday in Baghdad, overpowering armed guards, taking nine employees hostage and then driving them away. One employee was released earlier. (More on hostages)

On Tuesday, the Pentagon identified two Army Reserve soldiers who have been missing in Iraq since their convoy was attacked Friday: Sgt. Elmer C. Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina; and Pfc. Keith M. Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio. Both soldiers are assigned to the Army Reserve's 724th Transportation Company, Bartonville, Illinois.

Searching for insurgent leaders

U.S.-led forces were on the lookout Tuesday for two wanted men in volatile bases of the Iraqi insurgency -- Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf and militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Fallujah, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said.

In the past 24 hours, at least two Marines were killed in Fallujah, west of Baghdad. Groundfire forced a U.S. helicopter to make an emergency landing Tuesday outside the central Iraqi city, the Pentagon said. Three soldiers were wounded, the U.S. military said.

A quick-reaction force secured the crew, and the aircraft was destroyed before insurgents could gain access to it, Kimmitt said.

U.S. troops are trying to quell the uprisings, moving throughout the country where needed, he said.

"We still have some tough fighting ahead of us," Kimmitt said. "It is not completely calm throughout this country."

He said "significant" and "powerful" U.S. forces had massed outside the Shiite holy city of Najaf, where al-Sadr is based.

The cleric, who has led an uprising the U.S.-led coalition is trying to crush, was seen Tuesday leaving a mosque in Najaf.

Al-Sadr told an Arabic-language TV station in Lebanon he is "ready to sacrifice [myself], and I call on the [Iraqi] people not to allow my death to cause the collapse of the fight for freedom and an end to the occupation."

Kimmitt said U.S. troops are conducting "preparatory operations" and when necessary will "go after [al-Sadr] and his militia to end this violence."

Kimmitt later said cities such as Najaf and Karbala, with their important Shiite shrines, are not targets. He said al-Sadr and his militia, the Mehdi Army, are "trying to intimidate through a barrel of a gun the vast majority of the people of Iraq."

"They will be hunted down. They will be captured," Kimmitt said.

U.S. forces released a top al-Sadr aide, Sheikh Hazem al-Araji, after questioning because the coalition said it concluded he was not involved with the violence and was inclined to promote dialogue.

U.S. forces also have faced bitter fighting with Iraqi militants in the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah after the killings and mutilations of four American contractors March 31. Kimmitt called the situation stable but said there have been "provocative" actions by insurgents.

Marines seized "two known terrorists" and three others suspected of terrorist activity Tuesday in a raid near Fallujah, according to a statement from the 1st Marine Division.

On Monday night, at least two U.S. Marines were killed and at least eight others wounded in an intense exchange with Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah, according to pool reporters embedded with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Coalition blames 'foreign fighters' in Fallujah

Senor said al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born militant with suspected al Qaeda ties who is believed to be spearheading terrorist attacks in Iraq, is nearby or in Fallujah, long an epicenter of anticoalition sentiment.

"We believe Fallujah right now is a hotbed for foreign fighters in Iraq," he said, adding that residents would like to rid themselves of the burden.

"The problem here is with the foreign fighters, the international terrorists, people like al-Zarqawi, who we believe to be in Fallujah or nearby, and those Iraqis who would support the operations of the foreign fighters or the terrorists."

The coalition has said that it found a letter al-Zarqawi wrote to al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan in which he bragged of terror attacks outside northern Iraq and called for fomenting civil strife by attacking Shiites.

Ex-Iraqi military officers to lead new army

The commander of U.S. Central Command, Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, is planning to use former Iraqi military leaders to help lead the new Iraqi army.

"We've got to get more senior Iraqis involved -- former military types -- involved in the Iraq security forces," Abizaid said Monday. "In the next couple of days, you'll see a large number of senior officers being appointed to key positions in the Ministry of Defense and the Iraqi joint-staff and in Iraqi field commands."

Abizaid said he and top coalition forces commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, will be vetting and placing the new officers. He said the competition for the positions has been fierce.

CNN's Caroline Faraj, Jaime FlorCruz, Octavia Nasr, Jamie McIntyre, Claudia Otto, Elise Labott and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.


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