Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Militants step up attacks

INSTABILITY In a string of recent attacks, the Iraqi resistance has killed, kidnapped and bombed in an attempt to undermine the formation of Iraq's new government

AP , BAGHDAD, IRAQ

Some 1,525 pairs of boots symbolizing each US soldier killed in the war in Iraq are shown yesterday at City Hall in San Francisco, in a display named Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee's exhibition on the human cost of the Iraq war.

PHOTO: AFP

Militants carried out a string of deadly attacks, including four car bombings that alone killed 19 people and the assassination of a senior Iraqi military official. Shiite and Kurdish officials were trying to undermine the insurgency by stepping up talks with Sunnis and others to bring them on board for a new government.

On Saturday, the US military said a Marine was killed in action in a restive central province.

The interim government's deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, said Friday that negotiators are intensifying efforts to bring in the country's Sunni Arabs, believed to form the core of Iraq's rebellion. That has caused delays, leading to public frustration with the nascent political process.

"It is not acceptable that two months on from the elections, that Iraq does not have a transitional government yet," Saleh said. "We are under pressure, and we have to respond to public sentiment and have a government established as soon as possible."

He said the next National Assembly meeting would likely be Monday to elect a speaker, although it hadn't been decided yet if the president -- expected to be Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani -- would be announced.

Later, Jawad al-Maliki, a negotiator from the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance, said Shiite and Kurdish officials agreed to hold the second National Assembly session on Tuesday.

Insurgents trying to undermine the formation of a new government, meanwhile, seemed to intensify their attacks, carrying out four suicide car bombings across Iraq that killed 17 Iraqi security officials and two civilians. Militants have stepped up attacks against Iraqi police and soldiers who are key to an eventual US withdrawal.

Twin suicide car bombings Friday in Iskandriyah, targeted an Iraqi army convoy and police barracks and killed four policemen, two civilians and an Iraqi soldier, police said.

Another suicide car bombing Friday targeted an Iraqi convoy south of Baghdad and left one Iraqi soldier dead and four others injured.

Late Thursday at a checkpoint in the central city of Ramadi, a white sedan was blown up, killing 11 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 14 people -- including two US Army soldiers, nine Iraqi security forces, and three civilians -- the US military said. The Islamic Army in Iraq posted a statement on the Ansar Web site claiming responsibility.

Another car bomb exploded Friday in the city's center. It targeted a US-Iraqi convoy, but only killed the two attackers in the car.

In Baghdad on Friday, unknown gunmen killed Colonel Salman Muhammad Hassan and injured two of his sons as they left a relative's funeral in Baghdad, security officials said. Police also said Friday they found two decapitated bodies clad in Iraqi army uniforms a day earlier on a road north of Baghdad.

The US military announced Saturday that US Marine was killed in action during a "security and stability" operation in a restive central Iraq province.

As of Friday, at least 1,524 members of the US military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

On a road near Kirkuk, attackers ambushed a Defense Ministry officer, identified only as Colonel Sarajeddin, and kidnapped him, Iraqi army Major General Anwar Mohammed Amin said.

Thursday in the capital, five female translators who worked for the US military were gunned down by insurgents as they returned home from work, police Captain Ahmed Aboud said.

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