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Published: Monday, 4/11/2005

<font face='verdana' size='1' color =#CC0000><b> * New * </b></font> American abducted in Baghdad area; car bombs target U.S. forces


BAGHDAD, Iraq A U.S. contractor was kidnapped today in the Baghdad area, the latest in a string of abductions that have forced many foreigners to work here under armed guard. A pickup truck also exploded near a U.S. convoy as it patrolled a crowded market in the troubled city of Samarra, killing at least three people and injuring more than 20 others.

Three suicide bombers also hit a Marine outpost in western Iraq, wounding three Marines and three civilians in an attack claimed by Iraq s most feared terror groups.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said the American contractor, who was working on a reconstruction project, had been abducted around noon. He refused to release an identity or other details, but said the contractor s family had been informed.

Officials in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, said a pickup truck exploded in a crowded market shortly before the nightly 8 p.m. curfew for cars. At least three people died and more than 20 were injured, most women and children, hospital official Abdul Nasir Hamid said.

Witnesses said the blast occurred near American soldiers who were patrolling the market. The U.S. military did not have any immediate information on the incident in the Sunni Triangle, which is a stronghold of the insurgency.

Early today, suicide bombers tried to crash two cars and a fire truck into Camp Gannon in the western desert, but the drivers of the vehicles were stopped short of the camp by forces manning the checkpoints, a U.S. military statement said.

The vehicles exploded, wounding three Marines and three civilians and causing slight damage to the concrete barriers and a nearby mosque, U.S. officials said.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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