Roadside bombing in Iraq kills American soldier and two Iraqis

Friday, October 24, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Roadside bombs killed an American soldier and two Iraqis in separate incidents Thursday north of Baghdad, and an American paratrooper was wounded in a fifth straight day of attacks in a Sunni Muslim city west of the capital.

Two other soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division, which has borne the brunt of recent attacks, were wounded in the bombing near Baqouba, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. command said.

The death brings to 105 the number of American soldiers killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1.

The two Iraqi guards were killed in a bombing near an oil pipeline 150 miles north of the capital, U.S. officials said.

Ten other members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Force were wounded by the blast.

Elsewhere, troops from the 101st Airborne Division killed two Iraqis and wounded a third after gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades on a U.S. compound in the northern city of Mosul.

And in the capital, Iraqi police seized explosives from a car they said belonged to a Syrian and found a second improvised bomb in the same neighborhood. U.S. officials said they could not confirm the suspect was Syrian.

The incidents came as representatives of 77 nations gathered in Spain for a conference to raise money for Iraqi reconstruction. U.S. and Iraqi officials pleaded for billions to rebuild the nation.

The violence, six months after a U.S.-led force toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, has raised concern about prospects for a quick revival of Iraq's economy, despite the country's vast petroleum reserves.

Lt. Col. George Krivo, the U.S. command spokesman, said attacks on coalition forces have averaged about 26 a day over the past two weeks. About three-quarters of the attacks have occurred in an arc stretching from the west through Baghdad to the region north of the capital.

Also in Baqouba, 4th Infantry Division soldiers arrested two men believed responsible for some of the bombings and rocket-propelled grenade attacks against U.S. forces. A third suspect, thought to be the mastermind, eluded capture, officers said.

The American paratrooper, from the 82nd Airborne Division, was wounded Thursday by a roadside bomb in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, U.S. officials said.

It was the fifth attack against American forces in Fallujah since Sunday, when insurgents set fire to a disabled ammunition truck there, causing no casualties but setting off thunderous explosions. One American was killed in an ambush in Fallujah the following day.

In nearby Khaldiyah, U.S. troops released three women who were detained Saturday. Hundreds of people have been demonstrating daily to demand their release.

The women said they were arrested at 3 a.m. after the Americans kicked in the door of their home in an unsuccessful attempt to find one of their husbands. The women said they were treated well in detention.

U.S. officials said the explosion that killed the two Iraqi guards apparently did not damage the pipeline. The blast occurred south of Qayarrah, about 150 miles north of Baghdad, the officials said.

Repeated attacks on the pipelines and the decayed state of Iraqi's infrastructure have slowed efforts to revive the oil industry.

Iraqi police said they acted on a tip when they surrounded an area in Baghdad's Ad-Doura neighborhood, arresting the driver of a Toyota laden with explosives. Police said the man confessed to planting another bomb, which was found nearby.

Krivo, the U.S. spokesman, said American authorities were getting details of the incident but cautioned "it's a little too soon to jump to conclusions" about the driver's reported Syrian identity.

U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that foreign fighters were entering Iraq from neighboring countries to join the insurgency against the Americans.

Fears of car bombings have increased in the Iraqi capital following three deadly suicide attacks in the city this month.

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