Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday that although major fighting in Iraq is over, it would be "a terrible mistake" to assume the war-torn nation is secure.
A day after President Bush went to a U.S. aircraft carrier to proclaim success in ousting President Saddam Hussein, the defense secretary urged caution and said much remains to be done.
"It is dangerous," Rumsfeld said of the situation in Iraq. "There are people who are rolling hand grenades into compounds, there are people who are shooting people and it is not finished."
Almost daily, U.S. troops exchange gunfire with Iraqis, sometimes as a result of anti-American protests. Lawlessness is rampant, in a land abounding with well-armed citizens and divided loyalties.
"The president said that we have moved from period of major military conflict to a period of stabilization," the secretary said. "There will be pockets of resistance. There will be people killed."
In other developments:
The officials taken into custody — all on the U.S. most-wanted list of 55 regime leaders — were identified as Abdel Tawab Mullah Huweish, director of the Military Industrialization Organization; Taha Muhie-eldin Marouf, a vice president and member of the Revolutionary Command Council, and Mizban Khadr Hadi, another Revolutionary Command Council member who had been an adviser to Saddam since the early 1980s.
The Military Industrialization Organization oversaw development of Iraq's most lethal weapons and Huweish's detention could add to investigators' knowledge of any programs aimed at producing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Huweish was listed as No. 16 on the most-wanted list, Hadi was No. 41 and Marouf was No. 42. Eighteen of the 55 officials on the list are now in custody, and another is believed to have been killed in an air strike.
The U.S. military provided few details about the detention of the three top officials. The Army said Hadi was captured Thursday in Baghdad, but it was not immediately disclosed whether Marouf and Huweish were captured or surrendered.
No new violence was reported Friday in Fallujah, where seven U.S. soldiers were wounded Thursday in a grenade attack.
That attack was in apparent retaliation for U.S. gunfire earlier in the week that killed 18 people, according to local hospital officials. U.S. officers said their soldiers were defending themselves after being shot at, while residents said the victims were unarmed protesters.
Even a leader of the temporary city administration spoke harshly of the U.S. troops in Fallujah, a Baath Party stronghold 30 miles west of Baghdad.
"After the massacre, we don't believe the Americans came to free us, but to occupy and take our wealth and kill us," said Mohammed Farhan, who is in charge of city security.