Tikrit, Aug. 4 (Reuters): US troops hunting Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants just missed catching a senior figure in an overnight raid, but have captured high-profile suspects over the last few days, the military said today.
Soldiers came under attack again in central Baghdad when a bomb was thrown at a Humvee vehicle in broad daylight, wounding three soldiers and an Iraqi translator, the military said. Witnesses said troops had detained around 50 people afterwards in a nearby building.
Last night, about 300 soldiers with armoured vehicles and backed by helicopters fanned out to villages north and east of Saddam’s home town of Tikrit for a manhunt under cover of darkness.
They searched homes and interrogated families, but did not find the key Saddam loyalists they were looking for.
Major Josslyn Aberle of the 4th Infantry Division said some targets had been tracked down despite yesterday’s disappointment.
“On Saturday, two high-profile individuals were detained near Baiji,” she said, adding that Task Force 20, the special forces unit hunting Saddam’s inner circle, took part.
She did not name the detainees or the top target who had evaded last night’s dragnet. Baiji lies north of Tikrit.
The US military blames Saddam loyalists and foreign Arab fighters for a guerrilla campaign that has killed 53 American troops since Washington declared major combat over on May 1.