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Violence escalates as search for U.S. servicemen continues

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May 14, 2007

Aftermath of Iraq bombing
Aftermath of Iraq bombing (AP)

U.S. and Iraqi forces exchanged fire with suspected Sunni insurgents on Monday, killing two and wounding four of them during a massive search for three missing American soldiers in a volatile area south of Baghdad, the Iraqi army said.

An al-Qaida front group, the Islamic State in Iraq, claimed Sunday that it had captured U.S soldiers in a deadly attack on a U.S. convoy the day before in Sunni area south of Baghdad that is known as the "triangle of death" — a longtime al-Qaida stronghold.

Meanwhile, 4,000 U.S. troops backed by aircraft, intelligence units and Iraqi forces were scouring the farming area around Mahmoudiya and the nearby town of Youssifiyah for the third day, as the military promised to make every effort available to find the missing soldiers.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the military could not verify the claim by the Islamic State of Iraq but "it would not surprise me if … al-Qaida in Iraq is involved in this because there are similarities to what they've done before."

He pointed out that the terror network also had claimed responsibility for killing two U.S. soldiers whose mutilated bodies were found after they went missing in the same area last year.

The Islamic State in Iraq offered no proof for its claim on Internet that it was behind the attack Saturday in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, that also killed four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator.

If the claim proves true, it would mark one of the most brazen attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq, a coalition of eight insurgent groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq.

Late last month, the group named a 10-member "Cabinet" complete with a "war minister," an apparent attempt to present the Sunni coalition as an alternative to the U.S.-backed, Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

On Sunday, U.S. troops surrounded Youssifiyah and told residents over loudspeakers to stay inside, residents said. They then methodically searched the houses, focusing on possible secret chambers under the floors where the soldiers might be hidden, residents said.

The soldiers marked each searched house with a white piece of cloth.

Soldiers also searched cars entering and leaving the town, writing "searched" on the side of each vehicle they had inspected. Several people were arrested, witnesses said.

Early Monday morning, U.S. and Iraqi forces exchanged fire with gunmen near Youssifiyah during the house-to-house search operation for the missing American soldiers, killing two suspected insurgents and injuring four others, a top Iraqi army officer in the area said.

He said the fighting began at about 3:30 a.m. and lasted for about 30 minutes. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns, said the coalition's search operation in the region has detained more than 100 suspects.

The U.S. military did not immediate comment on the report.

In Mahmoudiyah, residents complained on Monday that coalition forces had searched through their homes, and AP Television News footage showed on one apartment that appeared to have been ransacked in the search.

One resident also said three residents in the area, including two guards at a local mosque, had been detained by coalition forces, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

Deadly violence also struck other areas of Iraq on Monday.

The worst attack occurred in the Diyala capital of Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, when gunmen in two cars opened fire on a police checkpoint, killing three policemen and two civilians, police said. Two policemen and four civilians were wounded in the 9:30 a.m. attack, which ended when the assailants fled the scene, police said.

On Sunday, five civilians were killed execution style on the streets of Baquoba by gunmen who appeared to be accusing them of collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition.

The U.S. military has noted an uptick in violence in the volatile region and sent 3,000 additional forces to try to tame the violence.

In other violence reported by police on Monday:

  • Three mortar rounds hit an outdoor market in Zafaraniyah, a Shiite section of southeast Baghdad, killing three civilians and wounding nine.
  • A car bomb exploded in a parking lot in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Karradah in central Baghdad, killing three people and wounding two.
  • A parked car bomb exploded near a police patrol in Palestine Street, a commercial area in eastern Baghdad, killing two policemen and a civilian, and wounding three policemen and four civilians.
  • In Suwayrah, 25 miles south of the capital, police dragged two unidentified, bullet-riddled bodies of a man and a women in their 40s from the Tigris River. Like many other victims of such killings in Iraq, they were handcuffed with their legs tied together.
  • At 11:30 p.m. Sunday, gunmen apparently disguised as Iraqi soldiers broke into the house of a Sunni family at the Shiite-dominated al-Wihda district, 20 miles south of Baghdad, killing two men and wounding four others, included a 6-year-old child.

2 Responses to Violence escalates as search for U.S. servicemen continues

  1. Paolo

    May 14, 2007 at 10:31 am

    Let’s recount briefly the history of our heroic war of conquest in the imperial province of Iraq.

    First, 9-11 happened. The administration cynically used the deaths of 3,000 Americans as an excuse to start a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9-11. This is like getting mugged, then solving the problem by becoming a mugger yourself.

    Then, the administration lied about weapons of mass destruction. They tossed in stuff about rape rooms and torture chambers just for effect. Then, they took over the rape rooms and torture chambers and applied their own expertise in this area (see Abu Ghraib). Amazingly, they still say, belligerantly, that “we don’t torture.”

    Then, there are the Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch lies. Tillman’s family and Lynch herself seem a little offended at cynical attempts to turn them into modern day equivalents of Horst Wessel. Google the name, and you’ll understand.

    The Administration cynically lied about WMD. To this day, they claim, openly and belligerantly, that “everyone” thought Iraq had WMD. Actually, those claims were under serious dispute from day one (see Scott Ritter, this website, and hundreds of other reputable sources).

    Of course, we knew they once had WMD, because WE SOLD THEM THE WEAPONS in the 1980’s.

    And those damned Iraqis fail to appreciate our benevolent efforts!

    We don’t need “timetables.” We don’t need “benchmarks.” We need to get out, NOW! America has been tricked into supporting a war of aggression in which hundreds of thousands have died needlessly. End the insanity! (Then, prosecute the bastards who trumped up this war…)

  2. SEAL

    May 14, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Every time the war mongering constitution destroying hell bent on a dictatorship assholes in charge get into trouble with support for their war, al-Qaida comes to the rescue. “Hey, this time let’s kidnap a few soldiers.” That will stir up the patriotism as people’s imaginations run wild with what the “terrists” are doing to our brave soldiers. They will drag this out and get plenty of milage to help Cheney. They want the war to go on forever, too.