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Three headless bodies discovered north of baghdad

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Turkish hostage freed in Iraq
Three headless bodies discovered north of Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A Turkish man kidnapped in Iraq and held for 50 days was freed Wednesday by his captors, a Turkish official said.

Meanwhile, the bodies of three headless men were discovered Wednesday morning on a highway near Balad, north of Baghdad, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division.

The freed hostage, Ayatullah Gezmen, 43, arrived at the Turkish Embassy Wednesday morning after his kidnappers put him into a taxi, according to Ethem Tokdemir, chief of the Turkish mission in Baghdad.

"He is very happy, naturally," Tokdemir said. "But he is also scared and worried. It's a difficult time."

Gezmen, who was kidnapped in Falluja by armed men, did not know which group had kidnapped him, just that they were Iraqis and called themselves "Mujahedeen."

Gezmen was a translator for the Turkish company Bilimtur, which had previously announced that it was withdrawing from Iraq following the initial kidnapping of its employees.

Initially the captors used fear tactics, but generally treated him well, Tokdemir said. Gezmen is scheduled to return to his home in Iskenderun, Turkey on Thursday.

The headless bodies were dressed in Western style clothing: two were in jeans and T-shirts and the other in sweat pants and a T-shirt, the spokesman for the Army's 1st Infantry Division said.

They were initially identified by the 1st ID spokesman as Iraqi civilians, but investigators at the moment don't know their identities and are trying to determine their names and nationalities.

Col. Adnan Abdul Rahman of the Interior Ministry told CNN the victims were all men and heads were found near the bodies.

The bodies were found in al Dijail, a rural farming area about 19 miles (30 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Rahman said. They were taken to the Salah al-Din forensic department to be identified, he said.

Deadly clashes in Ramadi
Fighting continued Wednesday between U.S. forces and insurgents in the violence-wracked city of Ramadi, where 11 Iraqis were killed and seven were wounded, an Iraqi Health Ministry spokesman said.

According to Saad al-Amily, the dead included nine men and two women. It was not clear how many of the victims were civilians or fighters.

Also in Ramadi, Khamees Saad, the director general of the Anbar Health Department, escaped an assassination attempt Wednesday. Saad's deputy was wounded in the attack and a bodyguard was killed.

Other developments

An Iraqi National Guard soldier and a civilian were killed Wednesday -- and ten other people were wounded -- in a car bombing at a checkpoint in Suwayra, said Col. Rahman of the Interior Ministry. Suwayra is 40 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The United States announced it will shift more than $3 billion earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction to improve security and oil production, the State Department said Tuesday. To offset the redirection of money, the United States will reduce spending on water and sewage projects by $1.9 billion and electricity by $1 billion. (Full story)

A Marine was killed in combat Tuesday in Iraq's Al Anbar province, the U.S. military said Wednesday. The Marine was assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Al Anbar is a vast province that includes the volatile city of Falluja. The death brings the total number of U.S. troop fatalities in the Iraq war to 1,017, including 768 killed by hostile activities and 249 nonhostile deaths, according to the U.S. military.

An Islamist Web site posted claims of responsibility for attacks Tuesday at a Baghdad police station -- where 47 people died -- and on a minibus in Baquba, where 12 police were killed. The attacks were claimed by Unification and Jihad -- a group affiliated with Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The group has claimed responsibility for kidnappings and other terrorist attacks in Iraq.
CNN's Diana Muriel, Octavia Nasr, Mike Mount, Kevin Flower, Arwa Damon, Mohammad Tawfeek and Abbas al-Kazani contributed to this report.

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