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Divers search for missing US soldiers in Iraq

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, June 17 (Reuters) Divers and helicopters have been deployed in the search for two US troops missing after an attack that killed another American soldier south of Baghdad, the US military said today.

The soldiers went missing after an attack on a checkpoint at a canal crossing near the town of Yusufiya, by the river Euphrates, yesterday. The area is a stronghold of Sunni Arab insurgents fighting the US-backed, Shi'ite-led government.

''We are currently using every means at our disposal on the ground, in the air and in the water to find them,'' Major General William Caldwell, the US military spokesman in Iraq, said in a statement.

''We ... will not stop looking until we find the missing soldiers,'' he said. ''Dive teams are now on site, working the canals and river.'' Caldwell said a US unit was at the scene shortly after an explosion and small arms fire was heard from the checkpoint at around 1955 hrs.

''The Quick Reaction Force reported finding one soldier killed in action and two soldiers' duty status and whereabouts unknown,'' he said.

''Three raids were conducted during the night on suspected possible locations, and a fourth operation was conducted this morning,'' he added.

REUTERS SHB RK1915

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