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There have been reports of U.S. commanders acknowledging they have taken relatives of fugitives into custody.  While questioning relatives is seen as legitimate among police forces worldwide, holding them as hostages is not.

At Amnesty International, the London-based human rights lobby group, Middle East spokeswoman Nicole Choueiry said of Batawi's case: "I do not think it is the first time."

"We are against it.  It is against international law to take civilians and use them as bargaining chips."

IRAQ WAR REPORTS

Two U.S. Soldiers Dead, Two Wounded In Diyala Battle

Recent weeks have seen a number of large-scale engagements between U.S. troops and guerrillas -- an unusual development as insurgents generally favor hit-and-run attacks.

4.5.06 By ANTONIO CASTANEDA, AP & By Andrew Marshall (Reuters) & By Sammy Ketz, Sunday Times

A joint U.S.-Iraqi attack on dozens of insurgents in eastern Diyala province on Monday left two American soldiers and one Iraqi soldier dead, U.S. military spokesman said.  Two U.S. soldiers were also wounded in the attack, which continued into Tuesday.

The battle erupted on Monday afternoon when two Iraqi army battalions were carrying out a "cordon and search operation" in eastern Diyala province, it said in a statement.

US air support was called in, along with more US reinforcements.

Recent weeks have seen a number of large-scale engagements between U.S. troops and guerrillas -- an unusual development as insurgents generally favor hit-and-run attacks.

U.S. Marine Killed in Action West of Baghdad

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