US Troops raid Iraqi hospital
- Troops raid hospital and seal off city in hunt for terror chief
James Hider, TimesOnline
Baghdad, May 07, 2005 - AMERICAN soldiers have sealed off the restive
city of Ramadi in western Iraq after troops raided its hospital in
search of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The raid came after an apparent
intelligence report that Iraq's leading terrorist may be ill.
Residents of the violent Sunni Triangle city, 70 miles west of
Baghdad, told The Times that US forces were reinforcing their
positions around the city, prohibiting vehicles from entering and
allowing passage only by foot through a single checkpoint. The nightly
curfew has been brought forward from 10pm to 8pm.
The measures have prompted speculation that US troops are preparing an
operation to hunt down al-Zarqawi and other insurgents. "It seems like
it's going to be another Fallujah," one worried resident said,
referring to the US assault on the nearby city last year.
Samir al-Obeidi, an administrator at Ramadi's hospital, said that
American troops and Iraqi National Guardsmen raided the hospital on
April 28, terrifying patients. "They came after the curfew without
prior notice. They started searching all the wards, for men and women.
Lots of people were horrified. They didn't know what was happening,"
"They kicked in any of the doors in the staff accommodation that were
locked. We asked what they were looking for and they finally answered,
`Zarqawi'. " A US defence official in Washington said that the
military had been alerted to possible terrorist activities related to
al-Zarqawi in and around the hospital. No one was detained in the
raid, he said.
On February 20, US troops narrowly missed capturing al-Zarqawi during
a car chase on a desert road near Ramadi.
Al-Zarqawi apparently escaped on foot but the soldiers seized his
laptop computer, his driver and one of his lieutenants. The laptop was
said to contain information about his health as well as intelligence
about his network.
Since then US troops have mounted several raids on al-Zarqawi's
suspected hideouts, including one in the village of Madain, south of
Baghdad, in which three men allegedly linked to the murder of Margaret
Hassan, the British aid worker, were detained.
Iraqi officials said two days ago that another raid in the
neighbouring town of Salman Pak which had been under guerrilla
control until last month netted 20 terrorist suspects and vital
After last week's raid on the Ramadi hospital The Washington Post
reported that al-Zarqawi's network, the al-Qaeda Organisation in the
Land Between the Two Rivers, had posted a statement at two local
mosques saying that he had been at the hospital but escaped capture.
Al-Zarqawi, who has a $25 million (£13 million) bounty on his head, is
the Jordanian terrorist mastermind anointed by Osama bin Laden as his
emir in Iraq.
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