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Soldiers slam dance the night away in Iraq

For one hour on New Year's Eve, slam-dancing soldiers put the war in Iraq and the progress and pitfalls of the last year on hold during a punk rock concert on a downtown military base.

The Vandals and a guest drummer from Pennywise rocked soldiers stationed in Baghdad with the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, during an evening concert in the secured enclave known as the Green Zone.

"Haji was a punk just like any other boy! Oy!" lead singer David Quackenbush screamed into the microphone, using a nickname soldiers use for Iraqis.

Scores of soldiers nodded their heads, pumped their fists, and danced.

"It's kind of like what (Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld said. You rock out to the band you have, not the band you wish you had," Quackenbush said jokingly.

Pfc. Russell Holt, 20, a medic from Tampa, was among the slam dancers.

"This is straight up one of the few times I get to go out and beat people up, but it's a friendly atmosphere so we're not getting beat up too bad," he said.

Baghdad's mayor had vetoed the 1st Cavalry Division's proposal to shoot off $1-million worth of fireworks left unused because of the early transfer of power to the interim Iraqi government.

"It's just another day. I'll have to celebrate double next year," said Sgt. Daniel Coons, 27, of the 1st Cavalry Division's 8th Engineers Battalion.

Allawi warns neighbors

BAGHDAD, Iraq _ Prime Minister Ayad Allawi made an unusually strong warning to Iraq's neighbors to crack down on insurgents infiltrating from their territory, saying Friday that Iraq's patience was wearing thin.

Iraqi officials have repeatedly accused Syria and Iran of supporting the insurgents waging a campaign of violence against American forces and Allawi's U.S.-backed government. Both countries have denied helping militants.

But Allawi's comments to Baghdad's Al-Iraqiya television were among his toughest yet. "Some countries are hosting people who are involved in harming the Iraqi people," he said, without naming any nations.

In new violence, a U.S. Marine assigned to the I Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action Friday during security operations in the Al Anbar Province, the Marines said in a release, which did not provide any other details.

The U.S. 1st Infantry Division detained 49 suspected guerrillas during a midnight raid in the town of Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad, the military said.

Also ...

"MRS. ANTHRAX' AILING: An Iraqi lawyer said Friday that one of Saddam Hussein's former top scientists, known as "Mrs. Anthrax" because of her alleged role in developing bioweapons for Hussein, has cancer and is dying in U.S. custody where she has been held for more than a year. A U.S. military spokesman refused to comment on the report that Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash has cancer.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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