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Explosions kill 3 Iraqis; fighting with U.S. kills 9

By Wire services
Published September 25, 2003

BAGHDAD - Bombs rocked a teeming quarter of Baghdad and a sex-film theater in Mosul on Wednesday, reportedly killing at least three Iraqis and wounding dozens. In a string of ground clashes, the U.S. military said it killed nine Iraqis on one of the bloodiest days of combat in weeks.

The nine deaths were all in the region around Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown. U.S. troops aborted two ambushes by anti-American forces, killing five Iraqis, and came under fire elsewhere in exchanges that left at least four Iraqis dead.

For the first time Wednesday, U.S. soldiers in central Baghdad were seen deploying bomb-disposal robots, to check a suspicious object in an underpass. That proved harmless, but about the same time 3 miles to the northwest, a bomb meant to catch a U.S. motorized patrol exploded instead as two buses rolled by.

The blast, in the old Tigris riverside district of Azamiyah, sent bomb fragments ripping through the buses and caused one to crash into a tree. At least one Iraqi was killed and 18 were wounded, police and hospital officials reported. Five of the injured were in critical condition, hospital officials said.

In the northern city of Mosul, a bomb exploded in a movie theater showing foreign sex films, and witnesses said two people were killed and seven wounded. Religious and political groups have warned cinema owners against showing such films after censorship ended with the collapse of Hussein's regime.

South of Tikrit, near the town of Balad, seven Iraqis attacked an oil pumping station guarded by troops of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. The Americans called in an AC-130 gunship, whose heavy weapons fire killed at least three Iraqis, said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, division spokeswoman. A fourth was seriously wounded.

In a second clash near Balad, a U.S. patrol killed three Iraqis waiting in ambush with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, the military said.

Another U.S. patrol in the same area opened fire on three men trying to bury a homemade bomb on a highway used by U.S. convoys. Two Iraqis were killed in the firefight, Aberle said.

In a fourth firefight south of Tikrit, American soldiers came under fire, pursued the attackers to a house, and killed one Iraqi, the military said.

Arms report may reveal little

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration's chief weapons inspector in Iraq, David Kay, is expected to present an interim report on his search to Congress late next week.

The New York Times, quoting unnamed officials it said had knowledge of the findings, reported that an early draft says Kay's team has not found any of the unconventional weapons cited by the Bush administration as a principal reason for going to war.

The newspaper quoted the unnamed officials as saying they believed that Kay and his team had found evidence of precursors and dual-use equipment that could have been used to manufacture chemical and biological weapons.

Officials who allowed their names to be used sought to play down expectations. Kay, who is in Washington this week finishing the document, is "still gathering information from the field," said the CIA's chief spokesman, Bill Harolow. "Don't expect any firm conclusions. He will not rule rule in or rule out anything."

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