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BAGHDAD — American troops operating south of the capital killed 12 suspected insurgents late Tuesday in a raid on a “safe house” near the site where an Apache attack helicopter was shot down earlier this month, officials said Wednesday.

The raid, in the so-called “Triangle of Death” town of Yusufiyah, also killed a woman in the house, officials said.

The raid was launched after intelligence sources tipped off the troops to the location of the safe house, according to the U.S. military command in Baghdad. Upon the troops’ arrival, officials said, they came under fire and responded with small-arms fire and air support from attack helicopters.

“The troops initially killed five terrorists outside of the safe house and then called for an air strike to neutralize the persistent direct fire coming from the safe house,” a U.S. military news release stated.

After searching the rubble, troops found an additional seven dead men, along with the woman. Soldiers reported finding suicide vests and weapons in the house, along with a shoulder-fired rocket.

It was unclear Wednesday why the release associated the raid with the April 1 downing of the Apache, which killed both pilots. Military officials did not say they believed the house contained the insurgents responsible for that attack.

“Coalition forces are currently determining the identity of those killed,” the release read.

“The troops destroyed the weapons, suicide vests/body bombs and ammunition on-site.”

The release came on the same day that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew in to Baghdad to bolster support for the new Iraqi prime minster.

Both flew in separately, arriving within a few hours of one another at military airfields in the country. While in many ways the U.S. military operations in the capital continued as normal, security was extraordinary for the joint visit of two of the highest ranking members of the American government. Many routine helicopter flights were cancelled, while surveillance aircraft buzzed the area around the Green Zone all day.

In the afternoon, an off-the-record background briefing was held for the Pentagon press corps traveling with Rumsfeld, along with a group of local Iraqi media, military officials said. All of Rumsfeld’s press appearances Wednesday were for a limited group of media, according to U.S. Embassy and military press officers in Baghdad.

Rumsfeld flew directly from Washington, while Rice flew in an a U.S. military craft from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.


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