Mon, Jul 12, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Three in military convoy killed in latest Iraq violence

ROADSIDE BOMB A militant group linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for an attack on a military headquarters in Samarra

AFP AND AP , MOSUL AND BAGHDAD, IRAQ

Three people were killed yesterday, including a US-led coalition soldier, when a military convoy was hit by a roadside bomb south of Iraq's main northern city of Mosul, the US military said.

Another soldier from the US-dominated Task Force Olympia, which patrols northern Iraq, was also wounded in the blast.

"While the injured soldier was being treated following the explosion, a vehicle approached at a high rate of speed and fired on the convoy. The soldiers returned fire, killing the driver. The roadside bomb explosion also killed an Iraqi citizen that was driving behind the Task Force Olympia convoy," the military's statement said.

The statement did not specify the soldiers' nationalities, but the force has only small numbers of Albanian and Australian troops alongside the main US force.

A militant group linked to Jordanian terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi yesterday claimed responsibility for an attack on a military headquarters in the city of Samarra that killed five US soldiers and an Iraqi National Guardsman.

The claim by al-Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad movement, posted on an Islamic Web site, said the assault on Thursday killed dozens of Americans and hundreds of Iraqis. The military said insurgents detonated a car bomb and then fired mortars at the building used jointly by the 1st Infantry Division and Iraqi guardsmen.

"One of the lions of the martyrs' brigade entered the building and destroyed it completely, plus six Hummers, including those who were inside them, thank God," the group said in its statement.

The movement said that as troops tried to escape from the building, "the soldiers of God were waiting for them and rained those who came with mortar shells."

The military said five soldiers and one Iraqi guardsman were killed in the attack.

Until last month, al-Zarqawi's network was thought to be responsible for car bombings and other terrorist-style attacks in Iraq that often killed dozens of civilians.

But last month, the group claimed responsibility for a spate of near-simultaneous attacks in four cities across Iraq that included car bombings as well as military-style ambushes on Iraqi security forces and US troops.

US military officials speculated Iraq's secular guerrillas, tied to the former regime of Saddam Hussein, were coordinating their attacks with al-Zarqawi, an alliance that alarmed military analysts in Iraq, which has been torn by violence since Saddam's fall more than 14 months ago.

On Saturday, US Marines clashed with guerrillas taking cover at a taxi stand in Ramadi, a stronghold of support for the former regime, killing three people and wounding five, military and hospital officials said.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria expressed hope that two Bulgarian truck drivers also kidnapped by militants remained alive.

Al-Zarqawi's group threatened to kill the men if the US did not release all Iraqi detainees -- an ultimatum that has expired.

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