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Iraq: More U.S. Soldiers Killed; Saddam's Bodyguards Captured

Baghdad, 26 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military says a grenade attack killed three American soldiers guarding a children's hospital near Baghdad today. An army spokesman said four other soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division suffered wounds in the grenade attack in Baquba, 50 km north of the capital. The location is in what U.S. forces call the "Sunni triangle," where ambushes on U.S. troops have been concentrated.

The attack brings to 47 the number of American soldiers killed since U.S. President George W. Bush declared major combat over on 1 May. Eight have died since U.S. soldiers killed Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, on 22 July in the northern city of Mosul.

U.S. troops with bulldozers began today demolishing the villa where the brothers were killed, after scouring it for clues to Saddam's whereabouts.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces in Iraq say they have captured several of Saddam Hussein's bodyguards during a raid on a house south of Tikrit.

U.S. Major General Ray Odierno said 13 men were seized in the operation and between five to 10 of them are believed to be Hussein's former bodyguards.

Overnight, the commander of Baghdad's police academy, Ahmad Kadhim, was shot and wounded in a raid against suspected car thieves. There were also reports of intermittent shooting on the road leading north to Mosul.

Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said today that the U.S. erred when it dissolved the Iraqi army and other state jobs after leading an invasion of Iraq. He said the actions created unemployment and fueled crime in that country.

In Japan, the parliament has approved plans to send troops to Iraq to assist in the country's reconstruction and stabilization. The move came yesterday in Tokyo.

A noncombatant reconnaissance mission is expected to leave Japan by August, followed by a 1,000-strong contingent in October. It will be the largest foreign deployment for Japan's armed forces since World War II.

The troops will assist with resettling refugees, rebuilding facilities, and providing fresh water and supplies.

Opposition parties have criticized plans to send the troops. They say the plans will violate the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits military forces from being used for purposes other than defense.

The U.S. State Department welcomed Japan's decision to send the troops.

Also yesterday, the U.S. military showed journalists the bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein in Baghdad. Video of their corpses was broadcast on international television channels.

The faces of the brothers were partly reconstructed by morticians and their faces shaved for the presentation. Officials said each body had more than 20 bullet wounds.

A U.S. official says Washington expects to pay the full $30 million reward to the Iraqi informant whose tip allowed U.S. troops to locate and kill Hussein's two sons.