U.S. frees high-value Iraqi detainees
'Dr. Germ' and 'Mrs. Anthrax' among those released
Rihab Taha, the head of Iraq's biological weapons program, has been released from U.S. custody.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military has released eight former Baathist detainees of high value, a military spokesman said Monday.
Among them are two female biological weapons experts: Rihab Taha, the head of Iraq's biological weapons program, also known as "Dr. Germ;" and Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, a top weapons scientist, known as "Mrs. Anthrax," CNN has learned. Both were captured a week apart in May 2003.
A lawyer for both women, Badie Arif, confirmed their release, saying that in all 25 detainees were freed, eight of whom were considered high-value.
The U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, would not release details on the detainees except to say the release occurred Saturday as part of a detainee review process. (Watch report on who got released -- 1:11)
"We no longer had cause to hold them since they are no longer under investigation for crimes," Johnson said in a statement.
At the time of the invasion, Ammash was No. 39 on the U.S. military's list of most wanted Iraqis. She has reportedly been ill recently.
Taha was not on the most-wanted list.
Arif identified other freed detainees as Hussam Mohammed Amin, the former head of the national monitoring directorate in charge of dealing with weapons inspectors and No. 34 on the U.S. list; former education minister Humam Abdul Khaliq (No. 43 on the list); former atomic scientist Hazim al-Rawi; former Uday Hussein aide Aseel Tabra; scientist Thamir al-Taie; Ibrahim al-Ani, a former member of Iraqi intelligence; scientist Dhia Mahir al-Tikriti; former prison director Hameed al-Janabi; and former transport minister Ahmed Murtadha.
Arif also is the attorney for former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, who still is being held.
Arif said 27 high-value detainees are being held without charge, and 65 high-value criminals have been detained and charged with crimes. Among them are Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants.
Attackers targeted two deputy governors and a local police chief in and around the capital Monday morning.
Gunmen severely wounded Deputy Baghdad Gov. Ziad Tariq al-Zuba'i and killed three of his bodyguards, police said. A civilian was also wounded.
A few minutes later, a car bomb exploded outside a children's hospital in western Baghdad, killing two civilians, and wounding the head of Dora police along with seven other people, police said.
Another car bomb in Muqdadiya, outside Baghdad, targeted Diyala's deputy governor. Five civilians were wounded, but the intended victim was unhurt, the U.S. military said.
In an attack Monday evening, gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying 11 civilians, killing four women and wounding four others, including a child, the Iraqi army and hospital officials said. The attack happened south of Baquba, outside Buhritz, in Diyala province.
Cheney visits Iraq
Vice President Dick Cheney paid a surprise visit to Iraq on Sunday, meeting with U.S. and Iraqi officials, and U.S. troops. (Full story)
His visit came as President Bush addressed the nation, reiterating his case for staying the course in Iraq, despite the heavy human and financial toll involved. (Full story)
Also Sunday, a U.S. Marine was killed by small arms fire in Ramadi, the U.S. military said. The Marine was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The death brings to 2,156 the number of American troops killed in the Iraq war, 1,690 of them in hostile action.
CNN's Dana Bash, Arwa Damon and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.
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