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Fighting in northern Iraq leaves 12 dead

Turkish, Jordanian hostages freed

The northern Iraqi city of Mosul was the scene of street battles Wednesday.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Clashes between police and insurgents in the northern city of Mosul left 12 Iraqis dead and 26 wounded, hospital and police sources said Wednesday.

Rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire as well as explosions were heard in the streets of the city.

The provincial governor imposed a curfew that began at 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. EDT), and two hours later, provincial forces, police and Iraqi National Guard took control, according to Hazem Gelawi, head of the governor's press office in the Nineveh province.

Gelawi said the city is stable and expects the curfew to be lifted Thursday.

"Today, there were several terrorist attacks in Mosul," Gelawi said.

"Insurgents attacked various police stations and attempted sabotage of government buildings and operations, but the Iraqi police and National Guard stood against these insurgents and managed to stabilize the situation."

Earlier, a roadside bomb hit a U.S. military convoy in Mosul, causing minimal damage to the vehicles, a spokesman for Task Force Olympia said. The homemade bomb detonated in the southern part of Mosul at a traffic circle.

No U.S. forces were injured in the attack, Lt. Col. Paul Hastings said.

Hospital officials said two Iraqi civilians were killed and two others wounded in the blast, but Hastings could not confirm that report.

Six hostages released

Two Turkish truck drivers held hostage in Iraq since Saturday have been released, the Turkish Foreign Ministry told CNN on Wednesday.

Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera reported that the Unification and Jihad group freed the hostages after their employer, a Turkish company, pledged not to supply American forces in Iraq.

On Monday, an Islamist Web site posted a video purportedly showing the killing of a third Turkish hostage.

In Jordan, four workers taken hostage for five days in Iraq returned home Wednesday hours after being released by their captors, according to a brother of one hostage.

The hostages were released Tuesday night after successful negotiations between two tribal chiefs in Falluja, according to Mohammad Abu Jaffar, whose brother Ahmed, 47, was one of the hostages.

Abu Jaffar said he spoke to his brother shortly after his release. Ahmed said he was "in the hands of good men" and the other three hostages were in good health.

The Jordanians were abducted by an entity calling itself the Death Group, which had demanded Jordanian businesses and interests pull out of Iraq. In a video aired Sunday on Turkish television, the group threatened to begin beheading hostages Wednesday.

The group said earlier that Jordanian interests in the world were targets, according to a statement released on Dubai TV.

Efforts continued Wednesday to try to free three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian. The truckers for Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Co. have been held hostage in Iraq for two weeks. The Kuwaiti company said that negotiations with the kidnappers have resumed after talks broke down Sunday.

In a sign the spate of kidnappings and killings have taken a toll, at least psychologically, on the American-led coalition in Iraq, the U.S. State Department announced Wednesday what it called a new policy statement on terrorism.

"We're united in our resolve to make no concessions to terrorists, nor to succumb to terrorist threats," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

"We understand that conceding to terrorists will only endanger all members of the multinational force as well as other countries who are contributing to Iraqi reconstruction and humanitarian assistance."

Report: Al-Zarqawi reaching out to bin Laden

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant operating in Iraq, has attempted to communicate with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a senior U.S. military official said Tuesday.

The official said al-Zarqawi made the attempts to communicate within the last "few weeks."

Intelligence indicates al-Zarqawi was trying to communicate about his strategy in Iraq for the insurgency movement against U.S. and Iraqi security forces, the official said.

The official could not confirm whether the communications attempt came in the form of electronic or courier-carried messages that were intercepted.

Al-Zarqawi and his associates have taken credit for a number of deadly terror attacks and kidnappings in Iraq.

Last month a Web site message purportedly linked to al-Zarqawi warned Muslims and Arab countries against sending troops to Iraq.

The United States has put a $25 million bounty on al-Zarqawi.

Other developments

  • Special agent Paul Arthur testified at a military court hearing Tuesday at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that Pfc. Lynndie England said, "It was just for fun," when shown pictures of her with naked detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. England is one of seven Army reservists charged in the prison abuse scandal. (Full story)
  • Six police officers in Najaf, including three bomb experts, have been taken hostage by members of the Mehdi Army, the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, sources from the Najaf governor's office said Tuesday. The six were kidnapped Sunday before clashes intensified around the holy city south of Baghdad, the sources said. The hostages were taken because one of the leading sheiks of the Mehdi Army was arrested by police in Karbala, sources said.
  • CNN's Tomas Etzler, Kevin Flower, Andrea Koppel, Kianne Sadeq, Barbara Starr and Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.

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