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Attacks injure 7 more U.S. soldiers

A blistering series of attacks, coming nearly hourly, wounded seven U.S. soldiers in Iraq on Tuesday, and the United States offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who kills a coalition soldier or Iraqi police officer.

The reward is aimed at stemming an insurgency that has plagued efforts to restore security and basic services. Last week, the U.S.-led provisional authority put a $25-million bounty on the head of Saddam Hussein, and a $15-million reward for the capture of either of the ousted dictator's two sons.

"I urge the Iraqi people to come forward to take these people off the streets," former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik said in announcing the $2,500 reward.

Kerik, who is in charge of security in Iraq, also said U.S. forces and Iraqi police had arrested Sabah Mirza, who was a bodyguard for Hussein in the 1980s before being fired. A raid on Mirza's farm after his June 26 arrest netted plastic explosives, mortars, a machine gun and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

U.S. soldiers raided a building in central Baghdad on Tuesday, following up on a claim by residents who say they thought they saw Hussein driving through the area Monday to cheers and celebratory gunfire.

Tuesday brought fresh attacks. Insurgents dropped a homemade bomb from a bridge onto a passing U.S. military convoy in Baghdad, wounding two soldiers. Two other soldiers were injured when their vehicle struck a land mine in the capital, said Sgt. Patrick Compton, a military spokesman.

In Kirkuk, 175 miles north of the capital, assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a military convoy, wounding three servicemen. The patrol returned fire, but there was no word of Iraqi casualties or arrests.

Witnesses said three Iraqis, including a 13-year-old boy, were killed after a grenade attack on a police station in a Baghdad suburb. Witnesses told Associated Press Television News that the soldiers returned fire, but that those who died had not attacked the police station.

Since President Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on May 1, 29 U.S. servicemen have been killed by hostile fire and 44 others have died in accidents and other nonhostile circumstances, a total of 73.

When Bush declared major combat operations over on May 1, the number killed in action stood at 114, according to figures released Tuesday by the Pentagon.

Two Arabic TV stations aired an audiotape purportedly of Hussein that they claimed to be new. But journalists familiar with the tape said it sounded remarkably similar to an audiotaped message that surfaced in May.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq and dismissed concerns he had overplayed the threat posed by Hussein before the war.

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