Iranian president leads

anti-U.S. rally in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Iran's president led a raucous anti-American rally yesterday in this tightly controlled U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, a day after a low-key visit by Vice President Dick Cheney aimed at countering Tehran's influence in the region.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a cheering crowd that America was to blame for creating instability and robbing the region of its wealth.

"We are telling you to leave the region. This is for your benefit and the benefit of your nation," Ahmadinejad shouted to the crowd of thousands at a soccer stadium. "The nations of the region can no longer take you forcing yourself on them. The nations of the region know better how to create peace and security."

Ahmadinejad's visit was the first by an Iranian head of state to this Sunni-led Arab country since its independence in 1971, and his rally was remarkable in a country where political parties are banned and power is held solely by tribal families.

"Every time your name is mentioned, hatred builds up," Ahmadinejad said of the United States. "Go fix yourself. This is Iran's advice to you. Leave the region."

Al Qaeda group in Iraq:

We're holding 3 U.S. soldiers

BAGHDAD - An al Qaeda front group announced yesterday it had captured American soldiers in a deadly attack the day before, as thousands of U.S. troops searched insurgent areas south of Baghdad for their three missing comrades.

The statement came on one of the deadliest days in the country in recent weeks, with at least 126 people killed or found dead - including two American soldiers who died in separate bombings. A suicide truck bomb tore through the offices of a Kurdish political party in northern Iraq, killing 50 people, and a car bombing in a crowded Baghdad market killed another 17.

Troops surrounded the town of Youssifiyah and told residents over loudspeakers to stay inside, residents said. They then methodically searched the houses, focusing on possible secret chambers under the floors where the soldiers might be hidden, residents said. The soldiers marked each searched house with a white piece of cloth.

Soldiers also searched cars entering and leaving the town, writing "searched" on the side of each vehicle they had inspected. Several people were arrested, witnesses said.

The Islamic State in Iraq offered no proof for its claim that it was behind the attack Saturday in Mahmoudiya that also killed four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator. But the Sunni area known as the "triangle of death" is a longtime al Qaeda stronghold.

If the claim proves true, it would mark one of the most brazen attacks by the umbrella Sunni insurgent group against U.S. forces here.

Victims of Taliban commander

celebrate his killing

KABUL, Afghanistan - The killing of the top Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, a one-legged fighter who orchestrated suicide attacks, beheadings and an ethnic massacre, marks a major victory for the U.S. campaign at a time of flagging Afghan support over civilian killings.

As victims of Dadullah's brutality celebrated his death yesterday, analysts called the killing the most significant Taliban loss since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. But even NATO acknowledged that Dadullah, who directed some of the Taliban's most notorious violence, would soon be replaced.

Dadullah, a top lieutenant of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was killed in the southern province of Helmand during a U.S.-led operation that also involved NATO and Afghan troops, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid, who called Dadullah a "brutal and cruel commander," showed the body to reporters in Kandahar who saw a one-legged corpse with bullet wounds to the head, chest and stomach.

"This morning a friend told me that Dadullah had been killed and I wanted to shout out to the people 'Congratulations! Congratulations!' I was so happy I started crying," said Munir Naqshbandi, brother of Ajmal Naqshbandi, the Afghan journalist who was believed to have been kidnapped and beheaded by Dadullah's men last month.

- Associated Press