Iraqi Officials Say Seven of the Kidnapped Clerics Are Free

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraqi officials are now saying that it was a rescue operation that freed a group of sheiks who'd been kidnapped yesterday in Baghdad.

Officials now say eight sheiks were kidnapped -- not ten, as initially reported. And they say seven of them were freed during today's rescue operation, in which four kidnappers were killed and six were wounded.

A police officer says the bullet-riddled body of a sheik was found about 50 yards away from where yesterday's ambush took place.

The U.S. has accused a rogue Shiite militia leader of being responsible for the kidnapping.

The clerics had been in the capital to discuss how to coordinate efforts against al-Qaida in Iraq.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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