“The more contact we have (with) the Iraqi citizens, the more confidence that they develop in us, and in the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army. That leads to greater cooperation from the Iraqi citizenry,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman. Some of the men freed during the raid suffered broken bones. Some had been captive for as long as four months. One said he was just 14 years old, Caldwell said. The 42 freed Iraqis marked the largest number of captives ever found in a single al-Qaida prison, he said. Meanwhile, in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, 70 police officers resigned from an elite police unit and handed over their weapons, saying they were afraid of the Mahdi Army militia of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, police said. Earlier this week, Mahdi Army militants captured at least seven members of the police’s rapid deployment force during a gunbattle, police said. The militants badly beat the police and warned them to stop their offensive against the militia or they would kill them, an officer said on condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation. Some officers had their houses firebombed, their children kidnapped and their relatives killed, he said. “I fear reprisals,” he said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD – American forces freed 42 kidnapped Iraqis – some of whom had been hung from ceilings and tortured for months – in a raid Sunday on an al-Qaida hideout north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Military officials said the operation, launched on tips from residents, showed that Iraqis in the turbulent Diyala province were turning against Sunni insurgents and beginning to trust U.S. troops. “The people in Diyala are speaking up against al-Qaida,” said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq. Deadly month Elsewhere in Diyala, a U.S. soldier was killed when an explosion hit his vehicle and a second soldier was killed in an explosion in Baghdad, the military said. The deaths brought the number of troops killed this month to at least 102, putting May on pace to become the deadliest month for Americans here in more than 2 years. In other violence, a barrage of mortar rounds struck houses in a Shiite village just northeast of Baghdad, killing three women and a child and wounding seven other children, Baghdad police said. A suicide car bomber attacked an army checkpoint in Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, killing two Iraqi soldiers. Gunmen also killed the renowned Baghdad calligrapher Khalil Mohammed al-Zahawi in a drive-by shooting in a Shiite-dominated area in eastern Baghdad, police said. Al-Zahawi, 52, who was also a lecturer at Baghdad University, was waiting for a taxi on a main road when the gunmen sped past. U.S. military officials have said they expected insurgents to step up attacks as U.S.-led forces worked to crack down on violence in Baghdad and the surrounding areas during their 14-week-old security operation. Captives freed As part of the crackdown, the military sent 3,000 more U.S. troops to Diyala, a turbulent province north of Baghdad that has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks. Sunday’s raid, the military said, was a sign that the increase was working.
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