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Marines arrest three after hotel firefight

No injuries reported after more than two hours of gunfire

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U.S. Marines guard the entrance to the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Marines took three men into custody Monday after a firefight near the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad.

The firefight lasted more than two hours at the hotel, which has been a base for much of the non-Iraqi news media. Last week, two journalists were killed in a U.S. attack on the hotel. At the time, U.S. Central Command said U.S. forces came under "significant enemy fire."

There were no reports of injuries in the firefight, which began just after 1 a.m. [5 p.m. Sunday EDT]. Reporters donned their flak jackets as a precaution and were told by Marines to turn off the lights on their video cameras, CNN correspondent Rula Amin said.

The Marines said the three men in custody are suspected of carrying out sniper-style shootings from a nearby building. Marines said the men were guards at a club and had been hiding in a building next to a gas station on Firdos Square, across from the hotel.

The men were shown on Arabic-language networks Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya kneeling on the ground with their hands tied. The footage showed Marines surrounding them. One of the men was bleeding from his forehead.

Abu Dhabi TV said the men had been arrested by the Marines but were innocent and that the club they guarded was where Iraqi police have been meeting to restart a police force.

U.S. Marines agreed Saturday to work with Iraqi police in an effort to restore law and order in the city. (Full story)

The Marines interrogated the three suspects after their arrest, and said others involved in the shooting escaped. The Marines also sent in more infantry to patrol Firdos Square. There are plans to clear the building from which the shooting came.

After the firefight began, Marines staked out positions along the square, occasionally shooting small arms fire and sending up flares to light the area. By 3:15 a.m., the three men had been detained and the situation had begun to quiet down.

Firdos Square is the place where Marines helped a crowd of Iraqis bring down a large statue of Saddam Hussein last week.

-- CNN producer Gordon Robison contributed to this report.


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