Sun, Nov 02, 2003 - Page 1 News List

`Day of Resistance' quiet but bloody

AP , BAGHDAD

A roadside bomb killed at least two US soldiers yesterday in Mosul, and many parents kept children away from classes in the capital after leaflets attributed to Saddam Hussein's party warned of a "Day of Resistance" against the US occupation.

However, there was no sign of a rumored wave of attacks which the resistance was allegedly planning for Baghdad yesterday. As the day progressed, traffic appeared to return to normal in the capital.

Insurgents were active elsewhere, attacking a US convoy near Heet, 120km northwest of Baghdad, according to witnesses. They said one man held up part of the wreckage from one vehicle and shouted "with our blood and souls, we sacrifice for you, Saddam." US military spokesmen had no confirmation of the attack.

Other witnesses said an oil pipeline was on fire Saturday about 15km north of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, an area of widespread opposition to the occupation. Witnesses said they suspected sabotage because the blaze was preceded by an explosion.

Sabotage to pipelines and the decayed state of Iraqi's infrastructure have slowed efforts to revive the country's giant oil industry, considered the key to rebuilding this nation's economy.

The two deaths bring to 122 the number of American soldiers killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to hostile combat on May 1 when added to the total given by the Department of Defense on Friday. A total of 114 US soldiers were killed between the start of the war March 20 and the end of April.

Rumors swept Baghdad that bombings or other resistance action would strike the capital Saturday. A leaflet attributed to Saddam's ousted Baathist party declared yesterday a "Day of Resistance," and called for a three-day general strike.

Attacks against coalition forces escalated this week, starting with last Sunday's missile barrage against the Al Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. The following day, four near-simultaneous suicide bombings killed about three dozen people and injured about 200 in the capital, prompting the international Red Cross, the UN and other organizations to withdraw foreign staff.

US officials have blamed former Baath Party figures, foreign fighters and Islamic extremists for the upsurge.

Many shops in this city of five million people opened Saturday despite the resistance threat, but it appeared fewer Iraqis were willing to venture out in the morning. Morning traffic was noticeably lighter than usual, and merchants complained of fewer customers.

The impact on school attendance was more dramatic. Many parents kept their children at home yesterday, the first day of the Iraqi work week.

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