Sun, Jun 20, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Insurgents strike twice in Baghdad

COORDINATED AMBUSH The attack started with the explosion of a roadside bomb, after which the militants opened fire from the rooftops, killing three Iraqi civilians

AP , BAGHDAD

Insurgents killed three Iraqis and an American in a pair of attacks in the capital, while local officials said two days of clashes between US troops and insurgents have killed at least 13 Iraqis in a town northeast of Baghdad.

In southern Iraq, work crews rushed to fix sabotaged oil pipelines, anticipating a partial resumption of exports after attacks this week halted oil flow. Officials in the US-led coalition said tests on the pipelines could begin as early as yesterday.

The three Iraqi civilians were killed in a coordinated ambush in Baghdad on Friday, which began when a roadside bomb exploded in the Kamalaya district in the east of the city, the US command said. Insurgents opened fire from the rooftops. US troops returned fire and the insurgents "sustained moderate casualties," the statement said.

Several hours later, six mortar shells exploded at a US camp in southern Baghdad, killing an American soldier and slightly injuring a civilian contractor, the military said.

The attacks were among several in Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq following a series of deadly car bombings this week that have unnerved an Iraqi public before the transfer of sovereignty on June 30.

Elsewhere, insurgents attacked US troops on Friday at a police station in the Sunni Triangle city of Samarra, firing rocket-propelled grenades and rifles after warning shopkeepers to close, witnesses said. US troops returned fire, wounding two attackers, residents said by telephone. There was no report on US casualties.

In the south, British soldiers traded small arms fire overnight with Shiite fighters loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Amarah, witnesses said. There were no British casualties but two insurgents were killed.

Municipal officials in Buhriz, a Sunni Muslim town located about 55km northeast of Baghdad, said at least 13 Iraqis had been killed in clashes since Thursday.

The fighting began on Thursday when American solders entered the town looking for insurgents, who opened fire on them, officials and townspeople said. Ten insurgents were killed and one American soldier was wounded in the ensuing firefight, spokesman Major Neal O'Brien said.

Fighting resumed on Friday when another patrol came under fire in Buhriz. At least five insurgents were killed, O'Brien said. There were no US casualties. Fighting persisted intermittently throughout the day, witnesses said.

Residents said about 20 Iraqis were wounded in the Friday clashes, and that many townspeople had fled their homes to escape the fighting.

In an afternoon clash, insurgents wearing red scarves blasted a US patrol with machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades as the Americans tried to enter the market district.

"We are ready to defend our city against the invasion by the occupiers," one youthful fighter said, refusing to give his name. Electricity was cut off in the city due to power lines damaged in the clashes.

Work crews were trying to repair damaged oil pipelines in the south. A coalition spokesman said the smaller of two oil pipelines blasted by insurgents this week had nearly been repaired, although engineers were still examining the larger one.

Spokesman Dominic d'Angelo said tests could begin on the smaller pipeline yesterday but full exports would probably not resume before June 16. Iraqi exports were suspended on Wednesday because of the attacks on the pipelines, which carry crude oil from the southern fields to tankers in the Gulf.

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