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U.S. Troops Kill Seven Suspected Insurgents In Iraq

Tikrit, 15 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military says seven suspected insurgents were killed today in three separate incidents north of Baghdad.

U.S. Army spokesman Sergeant Robert Cargie said U.S. troops killed four armed Iraqis in a shootout west of Baquba. Cargie said soldiers in the same area shot two Iraqis thought to be planting a bomb, and killed another insurgent in a firefight near Tikrit.

In Al-Basrah, tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated to show support for Shi'a leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has rejected U.S. plans for an appointed interim Iraqi government to take power. Al-Sistani and his supporters are demanding direct elections in the coming months.

Also today, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said top U.S. military commanders should be held accountable for the deaths of two journalists at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad in April. The group said commanders had committed "criminal negligence" by failing to inform troops that the hotel, hit by tank shells, was a base for journalists.

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