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U.S., Iraqi Troops Continue Samarra Offensive

4 October 2004 -- The U.S. military says it is continuing operations today in Samarra, and that about 70 percent of the Iraqi city is now under U.S.-Iraqi control.

The U.S. military said it killed 125 insurgents and captured 88 others during fighting that started early on 3 October in the city formerly controlled by insurgents.

But residents and hospital officials have complained of civilian casualties, and aid organizations have expressed concern about a lack of water and power and the fate of hundreds of families forced to flee.

The United States has said it would retake insurgent-held areas in Samarra -- as well as in Al-Fallujah, Ramadi, and Baghdad -- to create conditions conducive for nationwide elections planned in January.

This morning, a car bomb exploded near one of the heavily fortified entrances to the Green Zone in Baghdad, killing at least eight Iraqis and wounding scores.

The Green Zone houses key Iraqi government buildings as well as the U.S. and British embassies.

Initial reports said a car was racing toward one of the checkpoints into the zone but blew up before reaching it amid a crowd of Iraqi bystanders.

Less than an hour later, another explosion rocked one of the Iraqi capital's main thoroughfares -- Saadoun Street. It was not immediately clear was caused the blast or what was targeted.