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Seven U.S. Troops, Three Iraqi Guardsmen Killed In Iraq

People returning to Al-Fallujah after fighting (file photo) 6 September 2004 -- The U.S. military says that seven U.S. soldiers and three Iraqi national guardsmen were killed in a bomb attack on their convoy near the Iraqi city of Al-Fallujah.

Elsewhere in Iraq, raids carried out by Iraqi forces and U.S. troops have yielded mass arrests in the northern city of Kirkuk and Latifiya, south of Baghdad. Officials said hundreds of suspected insurgents were captured in the raids.

In other developments, five hostages abducted in Iraq, including three Jordanians, were reported released today. But the fate of two French hostages remains unclear. A statement purportedly from the Iraqi captors of two French journalists today gave France 48 hours to pay a $5 million ransom for the journalists' release.

The statement, which claimed to come from the Islamic Army in Iraq and was posted on the Internet, could not be authenticated.

The statement also demanded that France accept a truce with a-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and promise not to engage in any military and commercial dealings with Iraq.

The statement came as the secretary general of the Union of French Islamic Organizations, Fouad Alaoui, told a French radio station that the two French journalists were close to being released.

Alaoui just returned from a trip to the region to negotiate the release. Three Jordanians, a Somali, and a Turk were released today by their abductors.

(international agencies)

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