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Fallujah's tense cease-fire holds

Two killed as Basra boats explode



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Urban warfare as Marines go on patrol in Fallujah.

Attacks in Iraq on Saturday included a deadly blast in a Baghdad market.

There is growing debate over just who is behind the Iraqi resistance.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. Marines in charge of Fallujah have no plans for an imminent strike on insurgents in the Iraqi city, and want to give the negotiation process "more time," according to a Marine official.

Speaking after a Marine command meeting in Fallujah Saturday, Col. John Coleman said the Marines had the power to take the city at any time, however military action could hurt the rebuilding process.

Coleman also said military action could greatly harm Fallujah and its residents.

Elsewhere, two U.S. sailors died Saturday after a small boat they boarded off Basra, Iraq, exploded, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman said.

The two were part of a seven-member boarding team. Four others were wounded.

The explosion was the first of three at Iraq's main oil terminal in the Persian Gulf. The blasts occurred shortly before 6:20 p.m. (10:20 a.m. ET).

Twenty minutes after the blast flipped the small boat and tossed the sailors into the water, security officers intercepted two other boats as they approached the terminal.

Each exploded near moored ships, the Navy said. The coalition believes the boat attacks were coordinated.

Tensions remained high in Fallujah Saturday as U.S. top civilian administrator for Iraq Paul Bremer went to the city as part of the discussions to bring peace to the town.

Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor would not disclose who Bremer met with during his visit.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said that the progress in Fallujah so far has been "one-sided" as city leaders have failed to deliver on a number of promises.

"We had an expectation that the leadership would stand up and condemn those responsible for the violence inside Fallujah," Kimmitt said.

"It has not happened."

He said the insurgents facing U.S. Marines in and around the city have failed to surrender their heavy weapons, as negotiators promised, and have continued to shoot at the American troops despite the cease-fire.

Nor have officials begun to probe the March 31 attack on four American security contractors, whose slaying and mutilation prompted the U.S. move against the insurgents there earlier this month, he said.

The Marines have continued to observe the cease-fire, shooting only when fired upon, Kimmitt said.

Friday night, the Marines and coalition forces launched a rare mortar strike and a gunship attack on insurgent positions south of Fallujah, Coleman said.

The Marine colonel estimated as many as 30 insurgents were killed in the AC-130 gunship strike.

Earlier Saturday, a mortar attack killed at least 12 Iraqis in a crowded market in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood.

It was the first of the day's series of attacks that left at least 28 people dead, including five U.S. soldiers and the two sailors.

The market attack, which also wounded at least 25 people, prompted a mass demonstration in the streets of the largely Shiite neighborhood, a stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Video from the scene showed a mangled vehicle, surrounded by mobs of angry men shouting at the photographer. Other Iraqis collected body parts from pools of blood on the street. A dead horse lay on the curb beside a street vendor.

Elsewhere, five U.S. soldiers were killed and six others wounded Saturday morning in a rocket attack north of Baghdad, a senior coalition official told CNN.

In the Sunni stronghold of Tikrit, a roadside bomb detonated outside the 1st Infantry Division base, killing four Iraqis -- two police and two civilians -- and wounding 16 others, according to Master Sgt. Robert Powell.

Farther south in Karbala, coalition forces killed five attackers Saturday morning after they fired at the coalition base camp with mortars, AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. There were no coalition casualties.

Counting the deaths reported Saturday, 714 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq war -- 516 from hostile fire, 198 in nonhostile incidents. Of those, 575 died after President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1 -- 405 in hostile fire, 170 in nonhostile incidents.

Other developments

  • The remains of a U.S. Army sergeant missing since April 9 have been identified, the Pentagon announced Saturday. Sgt. Elmer Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina, had been listed as missing since an attack on a fuel convoy west of Baghdad that also killed three American employees of Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root.
  • A U.S. Marine died Thursday, more than a week after receiving wounds in action in Iraq's vast Anbar province, which includes Fallujah, according to a Coalition Joint Task Force statement released Saturday.
  • On Friday, Bremer announced changes to the policy that the coalition calls "de-Baathification" -- the effort to lessen the influence of former loyalists to Saddam's Baath Party over the new Iraq. During his remarks, Bremer said de-Baathification is the "right" policy but has been "poorly implemented," particularly as it affects teachers and professors, who were forced to join and were party members in name only.
  • CNN's Jane Arraf, Jim Clancy, Arwa Damon, John King, Mike Mount and Kianne Sadeq contributed to this report.


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