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IRAQ - Aug 2 - 44 Die In Attacks Aimed At Iraqi Security Forces.

Attacks aimed at Iraqi soldiers and police officers kill at least 44 people and wound at least 57, as American and Iraqi generals continue to shift security forces to Baghdad as part of their retooled strategy to roll back surging violence in the capital. In the deadliest attack, a powerful improvised bomb exploded before dawn next to a bus carrying Iraqi troops from Mosul to Baghdad, Iraqi military officials reported. At least 23 soldiers were killed and 20 were wounded in the blast near the Sunni Arab bastion of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown. Several hours later, a suicide bomber drove a sedan packed with explosives toward a Baghdad bank where Iraqi troops were collecting their monthly pay, but the vehicle exploded before it reached its apparent target when soldiers opened fire on it, military officials said. The attack killed at least 10 people, including civilians, and wounded at least 22, according to an official at the Interior Ministry, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak with the news media. "If you saw what I saw today, you would immediately leave here", said Loqman Shikhan, the owner of a musical instrument store several blocks away from the bomb site. Shikhan saw bloodied victims lying in the street and calling for help but receiving none "because people thought there might be another bomb waiting to explode", he said in an interview. Insurgents seeking to inflict maximum carnage sometimes detonate secondary bombs after rescue crews have descended on an attack site. Pres Bush and PM Nuri Kamal al-Maliki announced an agreement last week to significantly strengthen the military presence in Baghdad. The plan calls for adding at least 4,000 American soldiers and 4,000 Iraqi security troops in the capital. There are now 9,000 American troops, 8,500 Iraqi soldiers and 34,500 Iraqi police officers involved in security operations in Baghdad, according to American military officials. The cycle of sectarian bloodshed has steadily worsened in recent months, particularly in the capital, in spite of Maliki's original security plan, which he instituted shortly after he took office in late May. According to statistics from the Iraqi government collated by the UN, an average of more than 100 civilians were killed per day in June, most in the capital. Much of the recent violence has been committed by sectarian death squads, including Sunni insurgents seeking to topple the national government and Shiite militiamen operating under the cover of Iraq's Shiite-controlled security forces. The suicide car bomb attack in Baghdad on Aug 2 occurred on a busy commercial street in the predominantly Shiite, middle-class neighborhood of Karrada, on the east side of the Tigris River opposite the fortified Green Zone. It was the second car bombing in five days on that street, which runs through the center of a district that, until recently, had not seen the level of violence that has prevailed in other neighbourhoods. The latest attack shattered any lingering notion among residents that the neighborhood was a bastion of calm. "The situation is very bad and this street is very dangerous now, but we have no remedy", said Shikhan, the owner of the music store. "We have to work to feed our families". He said that if an exodus started, he would leave, too. "I can't swim against the current", he said. Foreign troops also came under fire on Tuesday. A marine was killed in Anbar Province "due to enemy action", according to the American military command, and a British soldier was killed in a mortar attack on a British military base in the southern city of Basra, news agencies reported, citing military officials. According to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a Web site that tracks military fatalities, at least 45 American service members and 1 British soldier died in Iraq last month. It was the lowest monthly death toll for American troops since March, when 31 died. But Iraq's security forces were the focus of some of the day's bloodiest attacks. In the troubled town of Muqdadiya, north of Baghdad, a car bomb apparently timed to explode next to an Iraqi police patrol near the main hospital killed six people - five civilians and one policeman - and wounded nine, according to the police in Diyala Province. Another car bomb killed three soldiers in Tal Afar and wounded four, news agencies reported, citing the police there. In Kirkuk, an improvised bomb exploded next to a police convoy, killing two officers and wounding two, said Capt. Firhad Aziz of the Kirkuk police. Elsewhere in Iraq, a car bomb, smaller improvised bombs, ambushes and street clashes killed at least 3 more people and wounded at least 13, the police said. The governor of Shiite-dominated Najaf Province said that about 45 people traveling from Najaf to Syria had been kidnapped during the past two days on a highway near the violent Sunni Arab city of Ramadi. According to an official at the Interior Ministry, a gunman was killed and another wounded in fighting between ministry commandos and unidentified armed men in Jihad, the Baghdad neighbourhood where marauding gunmen executed dozens of people in mob violence last month. A cameraman for an Iranian TV channel was killed at about noon in the Amariya neighborhood of Baghdad, according to the ministry official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters. The victim's identity, and the circumstances of his death, remained unclear. And The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Adil al-Mansuri, an Iraqi who was the Baghdad correspondent of the Iranian government-run TV station Al Alam, was shot dead by gunmen on July 31, said a colleague, Aysar al-Yasiri. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York, at least 74 journalists, 53 of them Iraqis, have died in Iraq since the American-led invasion in March 2003.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Aug 5, 2006
Words:968
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