SAMARRA, Iraq – Four relatives of the most-wanted member of Saddam Hussein's (search) former regime were arrested during a raid by U.S. soldiers on Wednesday.
The military said two of those detained were nephews of former Iraqi Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (search), and were suspected in keeping the former official in hiding. The former right-hand man of Hussein has a $10 million bounty on his head.
Hours later, a car bomb exploded in front of a police station in the central Iraqi city of Baqouba (search), killing at least three people, including the driver, and injuring nearly 30 others, officials said. The U.S. military said five people were killed.
Al-Douri has a $10 million bounty on his head and is suspected to have been orchestrating insurgent attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces. The former Revolutionary Command Council vice chairman is No. 6 on the U.S. list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis.
The five ahead of him have either been captured or killed.
"One of these days his head will rise up above the water, and we will be able to capture him as well," Lt. Col. David J. Poirier of Chicago told an Associated Press reporter who observed the raid.
Samarra and Baqouba are part of the so-called "Sunni triangle," home to die-hard Saddam loyalists. The triangle includes Habbaniyah, where an Army Apache attack helicopter was brought down Tuesday, apparently by enemy fire. Both crew members were unhurt. It was the third aircraft lost this month.
Al-Douri's nephews were seized after 40 soldiers from 720th Military Police Battalion out of Fort Hood, Texas, raided two houses in a darkly lit neighborhood of Samarra after receiving a tip. The troops poured out of heavily armored Humvees supported by Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.
They climbed over a 7-foot-high fence into the garden of one house before entering the structure and capturing one of the targeted nephews and his two brothers. The second targeted nephew was seized at a nearby home.
The two "main targets" are believed to be in close touch with al-Douri and finding safe houses for him, Poirier said.
"They are his enablers and his movers," Poirier said. "They have information they can provide to us ... that would be extremely important."
All four were taken to a detention facility in Tikrit at the 4th Infantry Division based inside one of Saddam's palaces. Tikrit, which is 120 miles north of Baghdad, is Saddam's hometown.
Al-Douri's wife and daughter were arrested Nov. 26 and remain in custody. The Army has refused to say why they were seized. Col. William Darley, a military spokesman, said Tuesday there were "special circumstances" surrounding their case.
U.S. troops have conducted scores of raids in central Iraq since the fall of Saddam's three-decade regime, leading to the arrests of Saddam, other former high-ranking regime officials and anti-coalition insurgents.
In Baqouba, 40 miles north of the capital, Baghdad, a car bomb exploded Wednesday outside a police station, killing at least three people, including the driver, and injuring nearly 30 others, officials said.
Police Col. Salam Omar said the driver tried to enter the walled compound of the one-story station about 8:20 a.m. When he ignored orders to stop, guards opened fire and the car exploded, heavily damaging the wall and shattering windows at the station and in shops across the street.
The driver of the car and two bystanders were killed, said Youssef Ahmed, a nurse of the Baqouba Hospital. Twenty-eight other people, including Iraqi policemen and civilians, were wounded.
A U.S. military spokeswoman in Tikrit, Maj. Josslyn Aberle, said five people were killed and 29 wounded -- all Iraqis.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Iraqis protested in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, shouting "Bush, you coward!" after American troops detained a 17-year-old newlywed woman while searching for a Saddam loyalist. The woman was freed after several hours of questioning on Monday.
Following the demonstration, gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. forces guarding city hall. The soldiers returned fire, killing two people and wounding four, according to witnesses, police and hospital staff.
The dead included a 33-year-old woman shot in a home and Ahmed Naji, 37, whose car crashed in a hail of gunfire. Naji's brother and father were seriously wounded, police Capt. Taha al-Falahi said.
Also Tuesday, Ukrainian troops opened fire to disperse several hundred protesters demanding jobs in Kut, 90 miles southeast of Baghdad. One man was killed and two other people were wounded in the second straight day of violent demonstrations in the mainly Shiite Muslim city.
In the northern town of Kirkuk, a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation arrested 26 former regime members Tuesday, Iraqi police Col. Sarhad Qader said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.