Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Iraq group says captures U.S. Marine after clash

\ - An Iraqi insurgent group said on Wednesday it has captured a U.S. Marine who was wounded in a clash in western Iraq in which eight other Marines were killed.

The Army of Ansar al-Sunna said on its Web site that it would soon issue pictures of the Marine, who it said it captured after ambushing U.S. forces near the town of Haditha, northwest of Baghdad. It did not say when it carried out the attack.

The statement could not be verified immediately.

The U.S. military said on Tuesday six Marines were killed on Monday in the same area. The body of one Marine was initially unaccounted for but was recovered later, the statement said.

The insurgents' statement, dated Wednesday, said: "The Lions of unity take an American Marine hostage and kill eight of the crusaders in a successful ambush north of Haditha."

It said the Marine was wounded in the clash, but it did not give details.

On Wednesday, a roadside bomb explosion tore through a U.S. assault vehicle near Haditha, killing 14 American Marines and a civilian interpreter in the deadliest attack of its kind against U.S. forces since the war began.

Haditha is one of several violent towns in Iraq's western Anbar province, the heartland of Iraq's insurgency which has defied repeated U.S. offensives.

Ansar al-Sunna has featured prominently in the Iraqi insurgency, launching frequent attacks and killing a number of hostages in Iraq, sometimes by beheading.

The U.S. command said the six Marines were ``engaged by terrorists and killed by small-arms fire'' in Haditha, which U.S. and Iraqi officials have identified as a major route for insurgents entering Iraq.

After the attack, residents of Haditha said several masked gunmen identifying themselves as members of the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, a major Sunni Arab insurgent group, appeared in the market carrying helmets, flak jackets and automatic rifles they said belonged to U.S. troops.

They distributed fliers claiming they had killed 10 American service members.

``They were on a mountain near the town so we went up, surrounded them and asked them to surrender,'' the statement said. ``They did not surrender so we killed them.''

A similar claim in the name of Ansar al-Sunnah was posted on an Islamic Web site.