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US to tight Iraq border security
Updated: 2004-03-04 09:36

U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said Wednesday it was "increasingly apparent" that a large part of terrorism comes from outside Iraq. He pledged to increase controls of Iraq's borders.

Bremer spoke a day after devastating suicide attacks and bombings at Shiite shrines in the capital, Baghdad, and the holy city of Karbala.

He appeared alongside the coalition military commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, a clear show of resolve amid fears the attacks could trigger open conflict between the country's Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Bremer said it was "increasingly apparent that a large part of this terrorism comes from outside the country."

Shiite leaders complained Wednesday that the U.S.-led coalition has failed to protect the country's porous borders and demanded more controls to prevent terrorists and criminals from moving in and out of Iraq with ease.

"There are 8,000 border police on duty today and more are on the way," Bremer said. "We are adding hundreds of vehicles and doubling border police staffing in selected areas. The United States has committed $60 million to support border security. These are practical measures and they will have an effect."

Earlier Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy chief of operations, told reporters that a "mile high wall" around Iraq would not have been enough to prevent Tuesday's attacks.

Bremer also said the planned signing of the interim constitution would go ahead, adding that terrorist acts wouldn't thwart a democratic Iraq. The Iraqi Governing Council said the interim charter would be signed Friday after three days of mourning for victims of the Tuesday bombings.

"Tuesday showed us the dark vision of the evildoers. They fight to ward off harmony and are happy to pave the road to power with the corpses of their innocent victims," Bremer said. "The terrorists are dead set against the vision of a democratic Iraq, a vision shared by an overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people."

Sanchez said the more than 200,000 Iraqi security forces would work with the 130,000 coalition troops to seek out, capture or kill the people responsible for Tuesday's attacks and others.

"Make no mistake, we will continue our offensive operations," he said. "This is our mission, and we will not walk away from it."

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