In Iraq, the FBI is involved in trying to secure the release of civilians from
12 countries who have been taken hostage by Iraqi insurgents. Four Italian security
guards are the latest foreigners to be reported abducted, while nine Americans
still remain unaccounted for. U.S. officials in Baghdad said acts of terrorism
may increase as the June 30 date for a handover of Iraqi sovereignty draws near.
Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said 40 foreign civilians are being held hostage
in Iraq. "The FBI is working with coalition forces and with Iraqi security
forces to seek out the hostage takers and the hostages," he said. "We will
not negotiate with terrorists and kidnappers."
He warned Iraqis and civilians in Iraq from coalition countries that terrorism
may increase before and after the scheduled June 30 handover of power. "We
recognize there will still be a major terror threat here after the Iraqi people
have sovereignty," he added.
Meanwhile, about 2,500 coalition troops are poised to move into the Shiite
holy city of Najaf where General Mark Kimmitt says anti-coalition militias
led by rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr pose a significant threat. "The force that
is being brought in that region is powerful, it will be disciplined and it
will be capable of conducting the full spectrum of military operations," he
Those operations were put on hold while a Shiite pilgrimage to the city was
underway. U.S. troops briefly detained a representative of the Shiite cleric
at a Baghdad hotel Tuesday, but released him after judging him not to be a
While coalition forces are trying to find him, Moqtada al-Sadr gave an interview
to Lebanese television in which he urged his followers to continue fighting
against the occupation even if he has to sacrifice his life for his country.
Meanwhile in western Iraq, resistance has been coming from Sunni fighters
and more fighting broke out in the town of Fallujah with U.S. Marines using
heavy weapons against insurgents. However, General Kimmitt said Marines have
been generally observing a ceasefire. He added, "Many of these attacks that
are being conducted by the enemy in Fallujah are meant to be provocative."
At least two more American troops have been killed in Iraq during the past