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Iraq Transition

Troop kidnapping was 'planned snatch,' official says

Story Highlights

• Three soldiers killed in attack identified
• Committee working on constitution asks more time
• Kidnapping of 3 soldiers part of "complex attack," U.S. military official says
• 11 arrests made during search, four are high-value targets
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces searching for three soldiers abducted in a Saturday attack south of Baghdad believe the troops were kidnapped in a "planned snatch," involving at least 10 insurgents, a senior U.S. military official said.

Insurgents targeted a "stationary observation post" -- where troops looked for people planting bombs, the official said.

The kidnapping was part of a "complex attack," meaning the attackers used many different weapons such as firearms and grenades, but the source wouldn't be specific on the kinds of weapons used.

A nearby unit heard explosions early Saturday "and attempted to establish communications, but without success." Later, an unmanned aerial vehicle spotted two burning vehicles and coalition forces arrived within the hour.

Four soldiers also were killed in the attack in a region known as the Triangle of Death. (Watch the dangers troops face in the Triangle of Death Video)

Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers -- backed by everything from air support to dog teams -- are searching for the missing troops.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said 11 people have been detained, and four of them are considered high-value targets.

As of Monday, 460 people have been questioned since the search was launched, Garver said, and the military has received more than 50 tips from people.

The slain and missing U.S. soldiers -- all men -- were from Fort Drum in New York, and all have been identified as members of the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade. (Watch why kidnapping weighs heavily on U.S. troops Video)

The families of the seven have been notified that their kin were involved. Three of the slain have been identified by the Pentagon.

They are Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Virginia; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Vermontville, Michigan; and Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tennessee. The number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq now stands at 3,401, including seven contractors.

"I'm proud of my dad," said Connell's daughter, Courtney. "He didn't really fight for himself, he fought for the country."

Courneya's mother said her son dreamed of being a soldier since he was 3 years old. (Watch Courneya's mom describe his dream of being a soldier Video)

Four others -- three missing and one of the dead -- remain listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown." The military can't yet sort out precisely who is missing because one of the four bodies is so badly burned that it can't be immediately identified.

The Department of Defense identified the four as Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nevada; Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, California; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan.

The military was performing a DNA test to determine the soldier's identity and hopes to have the testing completed by midday Wednesday.

The bodies were to arrive on Tuesday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

The Islamic State of Iraq -- a Sunni insurgent coalition that includes al Qaeda in Iraq -- issued a statement Monday saying it is holding the troops and is warning the U.S. military to call off its search.

CNN cannot independently verify the claim, posted on Islamist Web sites.

Parliament committee asks for more time

The Iraqi parliamentary committee working on legislation to amend the country's constitution has failed to meet its self-imposed Tuesday deadline and has told the political blocs working on the plan it needs more time, lawmakers said.

In their meeting Monday, members of the committee asked for a two- to three-week extension to try to reach agreement on a number of issues, said Hasan al-Sneid, a Shiite member of parliament who attended the meeting.

Al-Sneid said issues still being debated include the status and configuration of provinces and autonomous regions; the political status of the city of Kirkuk in the north, where Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens are jockeying for power; the role of former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party; and the distribution of revenues from oil and natural resources.

The move comes amid urging from Bush administration officials that the Iraqi parliament forgo a two-month summer break and move quickly to pass crucial legislation.

The Iraqi Accord Front bloc, the major Sunni bloc, threatened Tuesday to bolt from the government if it did not accommodate Sunnis on a number of matters, including constitutional reform.

The front's Iraqi Islamic Party -- headed by Tariq al-Hashimi, one of the country's two vice presidents -- said that while it is "unfortunate that the committee did not meet its deadline and has not reviewed many of the basic contentious issues," the party is OK with an extension by at least a week for further study.

Al-Hashimi in the past week has met with Shiite officials such as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his vice-presidential counterpart, Adel Abdul Mahdi, as well as Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney. He described his meetings with al-Maliki as positive and said he felt optimistic.

Other developments

• Five contractors at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad were wounded Tuesday by "indirect fire," a term used to describe mortar or rocket attacks in the Green Zone.

• Insurgents in Baghdad killed 10 people in two attacks on Tuesday, a bombing strike at an outdoor market and mortar fire near Sadr City, authorities in Iraq said.

• Insurgents kidnapped nine workers from Iraq's largest oil refinery on Monday amid concerns among the U.S. military about security at the facility, police in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit said Tuesday.

• Three U.S. soldiers, one Marine and one U.S. airman were killed Monday in Iraq in three incidents, the U.S. military said. The soldiers' deaths bring to 49 the number of U.S. troops killed this month in Iraq; 3,400 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the war began more than four years ago. Seven civilian contractors also have died.

• Fifteen slain bodies were found in Baghdad streets on Tuesday, according to an Interior Ministry official. This brings the number of bodies found dumped in the capital this month to 308.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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