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Fallujah mayor questioned in police station attack

U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police guard a Fallujah police station, where a Saturday assault by guerrilla fighters killed at least 20 police officers.
U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police guard a Fallujah police station, where a Saturday assault by guerrilla fighters killed at least 20 police officers.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The mayor of Fallujah was among those called in for questioning in the U.S.-led coalition's probe of a deadly insurgent raid on the central Iraqi town's police station, a U.S. military official said Monday.

At least 20 Iraqi police officers were killed in Saturday's raid, officials said.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. military spokesman, called the attackers a "well-trained unit" and said there is no evidence so far that foreigners are involved.

The jail raid was apparently aimed at freeing four men who were arrested earlier in Fallujah for firing on an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps bus, Kimmitt said.

About 50 armed militants staged what was described as a well-coordinated dawn strike against a police station and a civil defense compound in Fallujah, killing at least 20 Iraqi police officers and freeing up to 100 prisoners. (Full story)

At least four of the suspected insurgents also died in the guerrilla assault in the center of Fallujah, 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Baghdad in the "Sunni Triangle." The Sunni Triangle is a region north and west of the Iraqi capital that has been a hotbed of opposition to the U.S. presence.

Several people, including the town's mayor, are being questioned about possible inside help in the insurgents' attack, Kimmitt said. He said he was uncertain if the mayor was still being held for questioning.

Evidence of an inside connection included the cutting of communication lines to the police station before the raid and a call to the station that pulled a number of officers away from the building, he said.

Kimmitt said it was "the sense of the commanders" in the field that the attack was the work of Iraqis, not foreigners. Some reports quoted local officials saying Iranians were found among the dead attackers.

The attack was quick and well-organized, he said.

"This was a very, very well-trained unit that came in," he said. "They came in, did their business and got out very quickly."

Kimmitt said no American troops responded to the battle because when the coalition asked the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps commander on the scene if help was needed, he responded, "No, we've got it. Don't worry. We are not concerned at this point."

"Coalition forces were in contact with the [Iraqi corps]," Kimmitt said. "No assistance was asked for. No assistance was rendered."

He said the coalition was pleased with how the Iraqi forces responded to the insurgents' attack.

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