Insurgent attacks kill Iraqi police

Sunday, December 12, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Insurgents pressed their attack on U.S. troops and Iraq's security forces Saturday, killing five Iraqi police officers and wounding 14 American soldiers in a relentless effort to derail next month's elections. A U.S. Marine also was killed in the province containing the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

However, Iraqi officials maintain that vote preparations are on schedule.

The Marine was killed in action Saturday in the volatile western Anbar province, the military said. The Marine, assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed "while conducting security and stabilization operations" in Anbar, a military statement said.

No further details were immediately available. Anbar contains the battleground cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.

The Marine's identity was not released. As of Saturday, at least 1,287 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The 14 Americans were wounded in separate attacks in northern Iraq. One car bombing and ambush wounded eight soldiers, prompting an American warplane to drop a 500-pound bomb on an insurgent position in Mosul.

"The commanders on the ground felt the attack was heavy enough to call in close air support," military spokeswoman Capt. Angela Bowman said.

Violence continues to grip the Sunni-dominated areas in central Iraq despite last month's U.S.-led assault on the main insurgent stronghold of Fallujah and on an area south of Baghdad. That attack was launched to try to curb the insurgency so parliamentary elections could be held nationwide Jan. 30.

The latest attacks appear to be part of a sweeping intimidation campaign aimed at foiling those elections, in part by killing Iraqis who cooperate with the United States.

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