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U.S. frees 42 al Qaeda kidnap victims in Iraq

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NEW: 45 unidentified bodies found in Baghdad
• Kidnap victims show evidence of torture, U.S. says
• Three suspected of ties to Iran captured in Baghdad's Sadr City
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces have freed 42 Iraqi citizens who were kidnapped, held by al Qaeda in Iraq for as long as four months and possibly tortured, a U.S. military spokesman said Sunday.

U.S. forces received a tip on where the hostages were held, said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver.

"There was some evidence of torture," he said.

Garver said he believed the kidnappings were part of al Qaeda's "fear and intimidation" campaign against Iraqi civilians.

"They will take members of a community, and hold them, trying to get the community to act in ways they want with the threat of killing these hostages," Garver said.

"We don't see much from al Qaeda in terms of actual monetary gain coming out of kidnappings, but we do see them trying to use kidnappings to hold whole communities hostage."

Some detainees had broken bones and are being treated for their injuries, he said.

"Some had stated that they had been hung from the ceiling," he said.

The overnight raid took place in Iraq's Diyala province, north of Baghdad, Garver said.

The military spokesman said tips that come from Iraqi citizens, including the one that led to the Diyala raid, are a sign of the growing trust with the U.S. military.

But not all the leads pan out, he said.

"In this instance we got very lucky," Garver said.

According to the U.S. military, disenchantment with al Qaeda is also evident in Iraq's predominantly Sunni Anbar province, where coalition forces recently freed 17 kidnapped Iraqis who were found in two separate torture rooms.

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said last week that one of those freed was a 13-year-old boy, who "literally had been tortured, electrocuted, whipped, beat by these al Qaeda terrorists."

He said freed people told troops that one or two captives had died during the torture sessions, and the remaining captives expected to be ransomed off to their families, with the money going to support the al Qaeda insurgency.

In a raid earlier this month, coalition forces found a laptop computer containing an apparent al Qaeda manual on how to torture victims, Caldwell said.

The manual, illustrated by graphic drawings, shows how to use drills to torture people, sever hands, drag people behind vehicles, use a blowtorch or clothes iron on skin, remove eyes and electrocute people, among other tactics.

"They made it in a cartoon manner, so that no matter what your literacy rate, what nationality you are, all you've got to do is look at these pictures to understand how to conduct tortures of innocent people," Caldwell said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

Terror suspect with Iran ties arrested

Iraqi and coalition forces on Sunday seized a "suspected terrorist" with links to Iran's weapons and training network during a raid in Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The arrest in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood marked the third target captured in the past three days.

The detainees are suspected of having ties to a network the military says brings powerful bombs used in roadside attacks from Iran into Iraq and trains terrorists.

All three detentions come ahead of meetings slated to be held in Baghdad between Iran and U.S. officials on Monday. (Full story)

The U.S. military has been saying for months that militants are getting explosively formed penetrators, the powerful roadside bombs used in attacks on vehicles, from Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds force.

Most of the militants said to be supported by Iran are Shiites. But the military also has said it has solid evidence that some Sunni extremists are getting backing from Iranian intelligence as well. This is significant because Iran is a Shiite country and has allegiance to Shiites in the sectarian struggles with Sunnis.

Earlier this month Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammed Ali Husseini, said the allegations that Sunni Iraqis are using weapons from Iran "are baseless and false."

The U.S. military, under questioning from reporters, has also said it can't link leaders in Iran's government to such activities.

During a raid in Sadr City on Saturday, U.S. forces detained a suspected leader of the weapons supply network, the U.S. military said.

After the arrest, coalition forces fought off nine carloads of terrorist suspects, killing five, the military said. Three civilians also were killed, Iraqi authorities said.

Sadr City, a densely populated Shiite neighborhood, is a stronghold of the Mehdi Army militia of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr made his first public appearance in four months Friday, leading prayers at the mosque in the Shiite holy city of Kufa.

At the same time, the U.S. military said coalition and Iraqi forces arrested a person in Sadr City who also is thought to have ties to the weapons supply network.

Forty-five bodies found in Baghdad

Forty-five unidentified bodies were found Sunday in Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.

Twelve of the bodies were found in southern Baghdad's predominantly Sunni district of Dora.

So far in May, the bodies of 631 victims of sectarian violence have been found in Baghdad, surpassing the total of 585 bodies found in all of Iraq last month, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Authorities across the country found 682 bodies in February and 673 in March.

Two U.S. soldiers killed

The U.S. military on Sunday announced the deaths of two more U.S. soldiers Saturday.

A Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldier was killed Saturday and four others were wounded when a bomb detonated as they were patrolling in the western section of the capital.

And a Task Force Lightning soldier was killed Saturday when an explosion occurred near his vehicle in Diyala province.

Five other U.S. troops died Saturday.

Since the start of the war, 3,447 U.S. military personnel and seven military contract employees have died in Iraq. The total for May is 103.

CNN's Arwa Damon, Jomana Karadsheh, Jamie McIntyre and Paula Hancocks contributed to this report.

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