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US asks for ceasefire in Fallujah
April 10, 2004 23:39 IST
The United States military on Saturday evening was forced to ask for a ceasefire in the Iraqi town of Fallujah that has been the scene of rebellious action for the past few weeks.
After more than a week of fighting the US army has occupied only a small portion of the town. More than 20 Marines have died in the operations and an unknown number of civilians have died.
The US-led coalition had entered the town almost a year back.
Meanwhile, fierce fighting raged in central Iraq, including Baghdad. Forty Iraqis were killed, an American civilian was captured and a Red Crescent official and his wife gunned down.
Several members of the Iraqi Governing Council met with Fallujah city leaders, trying to win the handover of people who killed and mutilated four American civilians last week.
US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt warned that if the council's talks do not produce results, the military will consider renewing its assault.
"If the discussions do not bear fruit giving a clear path to restore order in Fallujah we are prepared (to resume)... a decision will be made," he said.
"Were we not at this point observing suspension of offensive operations ... it could well have been that we would have had the entire the city by this point," he told reporters in Baghdad.
Footage aired today showed gunmen driving off with a captured foreigner -- apparently an American civilian.
In the apparent kidnapping at Abu Ghraib, Australia's ABC television filmed the American, who spoke briefly with its cameraman, identifying himself as Thomas Hamill.
When asked by an ABC reporter what happened, the man said, "They attacked our convoy. That's all I'm going to say."
The car then drove off down the highway with him still in the back seat, passing a burning tanker truck on the road. The prisoner wore what appeared to be a light flak jacket of the sort worn by private security guards, who are often contracted to protect convoys.