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U.S. forces find suspected gold cache in Iraq

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For the second time in a week, U.S. troops have discovered what appears to be a cache of gold bars hidden in a truck, which could be worth just less than a quarter of a billion dollars, according to a Pentagon official.

Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade discovered 999 gold bars hidden in a truck during a routine traffic inspection near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk within the last two days, Pentagon officials said.

If it is in fact gold, its estimated value is thought to be close to $250 million.

On Friday, U.S. troops inspecting vehicles near the border with Syria found a truck with more than 1,100 gold bars estimated to be worth just more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

The driver and passenger said they had been paid $350 to pick up the truck in Baghdad and drive it to the Iraqi town of Qaim near the Syrian border, along a well-known smuggling route.

The bars and the men are in the custody of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Pentagon officials said the gold will be kept safe by U.S. forces until an Iraqi government is set up and decides how to use it.

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