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Abu Ghraib guard pleads guilty

U.S. warplanes hit targets in Falluja

Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick in a photo taken on August 24, in Mannheim, Germany.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The highest-ranking U.S. soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal pleaded guilty Wednesday to five charges of abusing Iraqi detainees.

U.S. Army reservist Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick pleaded guilty to conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault, and committing an indecent act under a plea agreement.

Several charges against Frederick have been dropped under the plea bargain, his attorney said, and the 38-year-old Buckingham, Virginia, man is expected to be sentenced Thursday. (Full story)

Frederick is one of seven members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company charged in the scandal that drew world attention. Pvt. Jeremy Sivits pleaded guilty in May and is serving a one-year prison sentence.

Sivits told a court-martial in May that he saw Frederick punching an inmate so hard that all present feared the man was having a heart attack.

A medic was called to attend the man after the incident, which occurred November 8, 2003, Sivits said.

Reports of the abuse followed the media appearance of photographs showing apparent abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, some being forced to be wired and hooded while standing on platforms.

Elsewhere in Iraq, Marines said warplanes struck another target Wednesday in Falluja, knocking out "a known enemy command and control post on the north side of the city" in a precision strike.

The attack follows early morning airstrikes on safehouses linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his terror network.

Medical sources said six people were killed in the strikes -- including a pregnant woman and four children. Another strike hit a women's teaching institute, but the rocket did not detonate after it damaged the building, the sources said.

Falluja -- 30 miles west of Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle -- is an insurgent stronghold and the target of near-daily U.S. airstrikes in recent weeks.

In Samarra, blasts killed a child and wounded 11 U.S. soldiers and a civilian interpreter, the U.S. military said.

The military said "a pair of vehicle-concealed improvised explosive devices exploded near the city center in Samarra" on Wednesday. The soldiers -- members of the 1st Infantry Division -- were in stable condition.

Meanwhile, the charity CARE International said Wednesday it had suspended its Iraq operations following the kidnapping of a local official.

Margaret Hassan, who has joint British-Iraqi citizenship, was seized Tuesday morning, the charity's London-based spokeswoman Kate Bulbulian told CNN. (Full story)

Other developments

  • Two Egyptian men were freed Wednesday in Iraq after being held hostage for nearly a month, the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera reported. The network said the Unification and Jihad group has secured the men's release through mediation with another group holding them hostage. Unification and Jihad is believed to be linked to al-Zarqawi.
  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday insisted no decision has been taken on sending British troops to relieve U.S. forces in Iraq. Amid a heated questioning in the House of Commons, Blair denied accusations that the request was being driven by American politics. (Full story)
  • CNN's Karl Penhaul, Kianne Sadeq, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Ingrid Formanek, Ayman Mohyeldin, Octavia Nasr and a pool reporter contributed to this report.

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