More US troops sent to Baghdad

REINFORCEMENTS: As part of a campaign to curb sectarian violence in the capital, the US Army transferred 3,700 soldiers from the north of Iraq


Sun, Aug 06, 2006 - Page 6

Two bombs exploded minutes apart yesterday in a market northeast of Baghdad, wounding eight people, police said. US reinforcements sent to bolster security in the capital were seen taking up positions in a contested neighborhood.

Also yesterday afternoon, the Defense Ministry and police said 55 suspected insurgents were captured in northern Iraq following a flare-up of violence there. Another 22 were arrested in Ramadi and two more in Baghdad, the ministry said.

The bombings occurred yesterday in Baqubah, 60km northeast of Baghdad. The first blast destroyed a grocery store and the second went off about five minutes later as police cars arrived at the scene. Police said the eight wounded included seven civilians and one policeman.

Baqubah is a religiously and ethnically mixed city, and has been the scene of frequent violence, with Sunni insurgent attacks against US and Iraqi forces and reprisal killings and kidnappings between Sunnis and Shiites.

As part of a campaign to curb sectarian violence in Baghdad, the US Army transferred 3,700 soldiers of the 172nd Stryker Brigade from northern Iraq to the capital to reinforce US and Iraqi security forces here.

Several Stryker vehicles were seen yesterday in Baghdad's mostly Sunni neighborhood of Ghazaliyah in the western part. Iraqi police used loudspeakers to encourage residents to go about their business and reopen shops because the additional troops were there to protect them.

Separately, a US military statement said a soldier assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died Saturday "due to non-hostile action" in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. It did not provide details.

At least 2,587 members of the US military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein, according to an AP count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,050 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

In other violence yesterday: Hassan Wannas, a former member of Saddam's Baath Party, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Diwaniyah, 130km south of Baghdad, police said; Chasib al-Minshadawi, 46, a former intelligence official in Saddam's regime, was killed as he was leaving a funeral in Amarah, 290km southeast of Baghdad, police Captain Hussein Kareem said.

Dozens of people are killed almost every day in Iraq, mostly in sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni extremists. At least 43 deaths were reported Friday, and 10 killed on Thursday at a soccer game hit by a suicide bombing.

On Thursday, two top US generals told a Senate committee that Iraq is in danger of sliding into civil war.