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Attack kills 5 Iraqi troops near Baghdad
Updated: 2004-07-03 22:41

Insurgents attacked an Iraqi checkpoint south of the capital on Saturday, killing five national guard soldiers and wounding five more, hospital officials said.

West of Baghdad, a U.S. Marine died of wounds suffered the day before during operations in Anbar province, the military said, giving no other details.

U.S. forces, meanwhile, said they uncovered a bomb-making facility in Baghdad and detained 51 people believed linked to an insurgent cell alleged to have been planting roadside bombs in the area.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment discovered several assembled bombs and four vehicles they believed were to be rigged as car bombs at sites in southern Baghdad. Also found were several automatic weapons, ammunition, explosives and the Iraqi dinar equivalent of about $8,750.

U.S. troops and their allies are hit nearly every day by bombs planted on roadsides. Over a dozen car bombs in the country last month killed scores of people.

"These discoveries deal a blow to anti-Iraqi forces," 1st Cavalry spokesman Lt. Col. James Hutton said in a statement.

In the southern city of Basra, one British soldier was wounded and two military vehicles damaged when a roadside bomb exploded Saturday, a British military spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

The five national guard soldiers were killed and five others wounded at a checkpoint in Mahmudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, said Dawoud Hussein, a local hospital director.

The U.S. Marine was the fourth to die this month in Anbar, a Sunni-dominated area that has been a hotbed of anti-U.S. resistance.

An angry crowd of Iraqis held a funeral procession in the streets of Ramadi, a volatile city in the province, carrying four wooden coffins containing they said were four Iraqi youths killed by U.S. tank fire. The U.S. military called the report "unsubstantiated."

With violence continuing, Iraq's deputy Foreign Minister Hamid al-Bayati called on France and Germany, the chief opponents of the war in Iraq, to help build and train his country's security forces.

"We need to build a new army and we need to build security forces and police," al-Bayati said in an interview with Al-Arabiya television. "We also need training for these institutions. The NATO countries, especially Germany and France, are important countries and we need the help from these countries."

About 160,000 foreign troops, mostly American, have stayed on after Monday's handover of sovereignty to the new interim government. The foreign troops are led by U.S. commanders with a U.N. mandate to help maintain security.

Bahrain's king said Saturday that his country was ready to send a naval force to help safeguard Iraqi territorial waters, if asked by the new Iraqi government, the official Bahrain News Agency reported.

The announcement by Bahrain's Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa followed offers by fellow Arab nations Jordan and Yemen to send troops to help shore up security in Iraq.

Also Saturday, a senior Yemeni government official clarified that country's offer, telling the Saba news agency that the country would only send troops after coalition forces have left.

"Yemen is willing to participate in an international peacekeeping force ... after the coalition troops withdraw and Iraq regains its full sovereignty, and if the brothers in Iraq ask us to," the unnamed official said.

No Arab nation has contributed soldiers to the U.S.-led coalition. Iraqi authorities have not comments on the offers.

At a summit last week in Istanbul, Turkey, NATO leaders offered military training to the new Iraqi government. However, France and Germany, which had strongly opposed the Iraq war, rejected the U.S. notion that an alliance training mission could develop into a NATO presence in the Iraq.

French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder insisted that any training must be outside Iraq.

Al-Bayati argued that help from the French and the Germans was more important for the Iraqis than for the Americans.

"We want balanced relations with all the countries of the world, and we are seeking the help of the international community to build a new Iraq built on democracy and respect for human rights," al-Bayati said.

An oil pipeline outside the southern Iraqi town of Zubayr was breached Saturday, but sabotage was not suspected and oil flow was unaffected, a British military spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

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