Thu, Jul 10, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Iraqi rebels take aim at US soldiers

BARRAGE Insurgents dropped a bomb on a US military convoy from a bridge in Baghdad as the Americans suffered a series of blistering attacks

AP , IRAQ

US soldiers and Iraqi police work together in arresting alleged looters along Saadun Street in the center of Baghdad yesterday. The US is offering awards for information leading to the arrest of Iraqis who have killed US soldiers.

PHOTO: AFP

A blistering series of attacks, coming nearly hourly, left seven US soldiers wounded in and around the Iraqi capital while the US-led authority in charge of the country announced a US$2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who kills a coalition soldier or Iraqi police officer.

A US soldier attached to the 101st Airborne Division was killed in what the military said was a non-combat gunshot wound near Balad, 90km north of the capital, the military said yesterday. The soldier's name was withheld pending notification of next-of-kin, and no further details were available.

US defense officials, meanwhile, raised their count of Americans killed by hostile fire in Iraq since the war began in March to 143, a figure that approaches the 147 killed in the 1991 Gulf War.

The reward is an effort to stem a spiraling insurgency that has plagued coalition efforts to bring security and basic services to Iraq. Last week, the US-led authority that runs Iraq announced a US$25 million bounty on the head of Saddam Hussein, and a US$15 million reward for the capture of each of his two sons.

`"I urge the Iraqi people to come forward to take these people off the streets of the country," said Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police official who is helping to rebuild Iraq's force.

He also said US forces and Iraqi police had arrested Sabah Mirza, a former Saddam bodyguard, on June 26.

Mirza was Saddam's bodyguard in the 1980s before being fired over a dispute. His current connection to the former Iraqi dictator was not clear, but a raid on Mirza's farm netted plastic explosives, mortars, a machine gun and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

On Tuesday, US soldiers raided a building in central Baghdad, following up on a claim by residents that say they thought they saw Saddam driving through the area on Monday, and say the ousted leader was met with cheering and gunfire by supporters.

Several pro-Saddam residents chanted pro-Saddam slogans on Tuesday as the US servicemen conducted their sweep, with some singing: "With our souls and our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you Saddam."

The last reported sighting of Saddam was April 9 in the Azamiyah neighborhood of northeastern Baghdad as the capital fell to US troops.

L. Paul Bremer, the top US official in Iraq, said the coalition would not rest until Saddam's fate was determined and reassured Iraqis that he would never again rule their country.

"He may be alive, but he is not coming back," Bremer said. "I think the noose is going to tighten around his neck. His days in Iraq are finished."

Tuesday brought fresh attacks in what has become a bloody and uncertain peace for coalition forces.

Insurgents dropped a homemade bomb from a bridge onto a passing US military convoy in Baghdad, injuring two soldiers. Another two soldiers were injured when their vehicle struck a land mine in the capital, said Sergeant Patrick Compton, a US military spokesman.

In Kirkuk, 280km north of Baghdad, assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a military convoy, injuring three servicemen. The patrol returned fire, but there was no word of Iraqi casualties or arrests.

In other violence, witnesses said three Iraqis -- including a 13-year-old boy -- were killed following a grenade attack on a police station in a Baghdad suburb. Witnesses told Associated Press Television News that those killed when soldiers returned fire were not among those who attacked the police station.

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