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A summary of the day's war-related events

MILITARY ACTION

In Baghdad, dozens of American Marines were wounded in fierce battles at a palace, a mosque and elsewhere. Four were injured near the Palestine Hotel when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a U.S. checkpoint.

Jubilant looters helped themselves to furniture and valuables in government buildings and homes of former officials. In a television address broadcast in Iraq, President Bush said: "The nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over." It was part of a media campaign that includes daily newspaper ads and radio broadcasts.

In Kirkuk, Iraqi forces abandoned their weapons and fled the city, relinquishing one of the Middle East's richest oil fields. That left only a handful of key towns and cities outside the control of U.S.-led coalition troops after 22 days of fighting.

Residents of Kirkuk ransacked government and Baath Party offices, shot and muddied the ubiquitous portraits of Saddam and pulled down a statute of the dictator that dominated the city's main square.

In Najaf, southwest of Baghdad, a crowd hacked to death two Muslim clerics in the shrine of Imam Ali, one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam.

About 50 miles west of Baghdad on one of the main routes to Syria, a coalition bomber dropped six JDAMs just before 2 a.m. Iraqi time on Friday on a building believed to house Saddam Hussein's half-brother. Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti was former head of intelligence for the regime and former Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations. The damage was still being assessed.

In the western town of Qa'im, airstrikes continued. Regime leaders fleeing to Syria probably would pass through the city.

In the western Iraq village of Rutbah, villagers welcomed coalition forces, pleading with them to keep out the "death squads." The town later appointed a mayor and installed a new government.

In Basra, British troops were using leaflets and broadcasts to urge Iraqis to turn in their weapons and quit looting.

All 1,000 of Iraq's southern oil fields are secure, coalition commanders said, and 800 have been inspected to see what repairs are necessary.

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CASUALTIES TO DATE

U.S. military: 106 dead.

British military: 30 dead.

Iraqi forces: Coalition officials estimate 2,300 killed in the defense of Baghdad.

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ELSEWHERE OVERSEAS

In St. Petersburg, Russia, representatives of Russia, France and Germany were preparing for weekend talks to plan for the reconstruction of Iraq and to debate strategies to uphold the United Nations' role. Among those meeting are Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

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AROUND THE USA

In New York, thousands of firefighters and construction workers rallied at the site of the World Trade Towers collapse in support of the war.

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WEATHER IN BAGHDAD

Friday

Sunny

High temperature: 84

Low temperature: 51

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QUOTE

"It's like Mardi Gras."

_ Sgt. Pete Raif on the jubilant welcome of civilians as his Marine unit drove through Baghdad.

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(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

Iraq

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