Two Americans killed by Iraq land mine
( 2003-11-01 16:11) (Agencies)
A land mine exploded Saturday on a road in the northern city of Mosul, killing two Americans in passing vehicles and wounding three other people, Iraqi police said, as leaflets called for a "Day of Resistance" to protest the U.S.-led occupation.
An oil pipeline also was reported on fire early Saturday about 10 miles north of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s hometown of Tikrit, an area that has seen widespread opposition to the occupation. Witnesses said they suspected sabotage because the blaze was preceded by an explosion during the night.
The reports followed a clash on Friday U.S. troops and Iraqi rioters when a dispute over a marketplace in Abu Ghraib exploded into anti-American fury. Two Iraqis were killed, and 17 others and two U.S. soldiers were reported wounded at the marketplace clashes outside Baghdad, as Iraqi rioters waved portraits of Saddam Hussein and shouted "Allahu Akbar!" ¡ª "God is great!"
A bomb also exploded Friday morning near an 82nd Airborne Division patrol outside Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding four others, the U.S. military reported.
In Fallujah, also west of Baghdad and a center of the anti-U.S. resistance, an explosion and fire struck the office of the mayor, who has cooperated with the U.S. occupation. In a melee that followed, one Iraqi was killed. Later Friday, U.S. troops came under attack at the same spot.
Three or four American soldiers were wounded in the northern city of Mosul late Friday when assailants threw a grenade at them from a speeding car, Iraqi police said. The U.S. military confirmed an attack at the same time but declined to give details.
An Islamic clergymen's association, meanwhile, issued a statement for Friday prayer congregations denouncing as sinful any Muslim's support for the Americans. "Supporting them is apostasy," it said, "... a betrayal of religion."
Rumors spread through Baghdad that bombings or other resistance action would strike the capital Saturday. A street leaflet attributed to the ousted Baathists declared it would be the "Day of Resistance," and also called for a three-day general strike to begin Saturday.
As a result, U.S. officials urged Americans in the Iraqi capital to "maintain a high level of vigilance."
The Australian government, which has contributed 2,000 troops to the U.S.-led coaltion in Iraq (news - web sites), also warned that a Baghdad hotel popular with foreign journalists and aid workers could be targeted for an attack.
"The Australian government has received credible reports of imminent terrorist threats to the district of the al Hamra Hotel in central Baghdad," the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned in its latest travel advisory late Friday. "These reports indicate a particular threat over the next two weeks beginning on November 1."
The fresh violence flared as U.S. forces contended with an upsurge in the 6-month-old campaign of ambushes and bombings by the shadowy resistance forces, who now strike almost three dozen times a day, mostly in central Iraq.
The U.S. command is grappling with unanswered questions of who is behind the harassing attacks, how coordinated they are, and how to bring them under control. American officials variously blame die-hard Saddam loyalists, foreign and local Islamic extremists, and even released criminals, and some suggest Saddam himself may be plotting some attacks.
Before dawn on Friday, U.S. troops sealed off Saddam's birthplace village of Uja, about 95 miles north of Baghdad, where relatives of Saddam and adherents of his Baath Party have long been suspected of maintaining contacts with the ousted leader.
The 4th Infantry Division troops ringed the village with razor wire, set up checkpoints and began issuing identity cards to villagers to control their movements.
The bloody, on-and-off clashes in Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, broke out Friday morning when U.S. troops tried to clear market stalls from a main road, Iraqi police reported.
The reason for the U.S. action and the sequence of events remained unclear late Friday. But at some early point someone tossed a grenade at U.S. soldiers, slightly wounding two, Army 1st Lt. Joseph Harrison said at the scene, and mortar rounds fell on a nearby police station.
Young Iraqis threw stones at soldiers and tanks, set tires ablaze, and brandished Saddam portraits, shouting religious slogans.
Gunfire broke out sporadically, but then the Iraqis retired for midday prayers in nearby mosques. When they returned to the market, gunfire erupted again as more U.S. armored vehicles moved in. Ten explosions and machine-gun fire were heard, and American helicopters hovered overhead.
In late afternoon, the bodies of two Iraqi men ¡ª identified by friends as Mohammed Auweid, 45, and Hamid Abdullah, 41 ¡ª were carried from the sealed-off area.
"God damn America!" shouted friend Ali Hussein, who said the men were passing by when the Americans opened fire on rock-throwers. "U.S. soldiers are the real terrorists, not us!" he said.
Nearby Shula Hospital received 17 wounded civilians, said the hospital's Dr. Imad Ali. He said three were in critical condition. The Americans said they arrested two Iraqis found carrying a mortar firing tube.
Some 40 miles to the west, an explosion rocked the center of Fallujah at midday, and thick, black smoke billowed from the mayor's office. The town hall had been the target of previous attacks as well, since its leadership began cooperating with the American military last April.
Firemen extinguished the flames, and no casualties were reported, but authorities said one Iraqi was killed and one wounded when residents converged on the scene outraged that their district was again the target of an attack because it was associated with the U.S. occupation. Police shot and killed the man during the argument, said civil defense officer Ahmed Khalil reported.
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