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U.N. Death Toll Hits 23; Top Fedayeen Member Nabbed

The United Nations (search) said Thursday it was pulling a third of its staff from Iraq as the death toll rose to 23 in the bombing of its Baghdad headquarters.

Also, U.S. troops nabbed a suspected Iraqi militia leader carrying what appeared to be a hit list of 10 Iraqi names. And an American soldier was reported killed by "an improvised explosive device," the U.S. Central Command said. Two other soldiers were wounded in the incident in the Karkah district of Baghdad late Wednesday.

Map: Recent Developments in Iraq

The dead soldier, whose name was not yet released, was from the 1st Armored Division. The military had no other details.

U.S. forces captured a suspected senior member of Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen (search) militia who was carrying a shopping list for explosives materials near Baqouba, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, a military official said.

The man, identified as Rashid Mohammed (search), was believed to be trying to organize a 600-strong militia in the area. He also was holding what appeared to be list of Iraqis to be killed when soldiers stopped his car on a highway north of Baqouba and detained him along with two others, said Lt. Col. William Adamson, of the 588th Engineering Battalions.

The military also said it had captured an unspecified number of Saddam's relatives and associates in a Wednesday night raid in Baquoba, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad. Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, declined to identify the captives.

Saddam "will have to continue to move on a routine basis or we will catch him. I believe he is moving around the Sunni Triangle," Odierno said, referring to the region west and north of Baghdad with a high concentration of supporters of the deposed dictator.

Meanwhile, hundreds of soldiers and civilians, assisted by sniffer dogs, searched for bodies Thursday amid the destroyed U.N. offices in the Canal Hotel, said David Roath from the U.S. Defense Department, who is overseeing the recovery efforts. He said evidence of human remains was being collected and would be sent to a lab for testing, Roath said, without elaborating.

Thursday's search uncovered three more bodies, said U.N. spokesman Salim Lone, raising the toll to at least 23 -- including chief U.N. envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello (search).

About 100 U.N. support and administrative staff, out of a total 300 in Iraq, were being flown to Amman, Jordan, and Larnaca, Cyprus, according to Romiro Lopez da Silva, Iraq coordinator for U.N. humanitarian programs.

He said 86 U.N. staffers were seriously wounded in the Tuesday attack and were evacuated as their condition allowed. He said two U.N. colleagues still were unaccounted for and an unknown number of people, visitors to the headquarters building, still were buried in the rubble.

FBI agents investigating the blast determined that the bomb consisted of about 1,000 pounds of old ordnance -- including mortar rounds, artillery shells, hand grenades and a 500-pound bomb -- likely culled from Saddam's old arsenal.

The explosives were piled -- without "any great degree of sophistication or expertise" -- onto the back of a Soviet-made military flatbed truck known as a KAMAZ, not a cement truck as earlier thought, Special Agent Thomas Fuentes said. The vehicle was driven to just outside the concrete wall recently built around the hotel and detonated. Some munitions failed to explode, and investigators and rescue workers had to dig through the site carefully Wednesday to avoid setting them off.

U.S. Army soldiers have turned up plentiful weapons caches across the country in past months.

L. Paul Bremer, the American civil administrator in Iraq, said on American television Wednesday that there were "at least two hypotheses" over the bombing -- one blaming remnants of the Saddam regime, the other, insurgents from neighboring countries.

He said more than 100 foreign terrorists were believed to be in Iraq, but did not say which theory seemed more likely at this stage.

Members of Iraq's U.S.-picked Governing Council pointed to Saddam loyalists. After a council meeting Wednesday, member Mouwafak Al-Rabii said, "There are fingerprints indicating that the act was committed by remnants of the former regime and there are early investigation reports confirming that." He did not elaborate.

Ahmad Chalabi, a prominent council member, warned that the lines between foreign militants and pro-Saddam guerrillas is already blurred, saying Iraqi intelligence reports showed that the Saddam's Fedayeen militia had allied itself with the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Islam.

"Ansar are now in Baghdad and they are compromised of Iraqis from all sects and non-Iraqis," he said.