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Three US soldiers killed in latest Iraq Attacks
( 2003-09-22 08:37) (Agencies)

Attackers killed two American soldiers in a mortar attack and a third died from a roadside bomb blast in the latest strikes against U.S. occupation forces in Iraq, military officials said Sunday.

An aerial view of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of the capital Baghdad is seen in this July 20, 2003, file photo. Two U.S. soldiers were killed and 13 wounded in a mortar attack on the U.S.-run prison, a military spokeswoman said on September.  [Reuters]
The Saturday night attacks and an assassination attempt on a member of Iraq's U.S.-backed Governing Council earlier in the day cast a shadow over efforts by the country's interim leaders to entice investors with a raft of liberal economic measures.

Iraq's new finance minister announced the reforms, including allowing foreign investments into all sectors except oil, in Dubai Sunday. But the violence plaguing the country is bound to make many investors extremely wary.

Under cover of darkness, guerrillas fired two mortar bombs Saturday evening at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad which is guarded and run by the U.S. Army.

"There were two soldiers killed and 13 wounded," a military spokeswoman said, adding that the dead were military police.

She said no detainees were injured in the attack.

In a handout image from video, President Bush participates in an interview with Fox News reporter Brit Hume, Sept. 21, 2003, at the White House in Washington. In the exclusive interview with Fox, Bush said he will declare in his speech Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly that he 'made the right decision and the others that joined us made the right decision' to invade Iraq.  [AP]
On August 17, assailants fired mortar rounds on the prison, killing six Iraqis and wounding 59.

U.S. forces hold common criminals and Iraqis suspected of guerrilla attacks against them at the jail, one of the largest in Iraq and which human rights groups say was notorious for the execution and torture of inmates during Saddam Hussein's rule.

Also Saturday night, a soldier from the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was killed by a bomb attack on his vehicle. He was pronounced dead on his way to a military hospital, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The deaths raised to 79 the number of U.S. soldiers killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared major combat in Iraq over on May 1, following the war that ousted Saddam the previous month.

The rising death toll is putting more pressure on Bush at home as he seeks a new U.N. resolution to create a multinational force for Iraq.

But France and Germany, opponents of the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam, are demanding that the United States agree to a fast handover of power to Iraqis. The United States believes a speedy power transfer would lead to failure.

Leaders of France and Germany stood firm on their demand at weekend talks in Berlin with Britain's Tony Blair, casting doubt on whether talks with the United States this week will make progress.

Bush, who is to address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, said he did not consider it essential to grant the United Nations a larger political role to obtain a new resolution backing the multinational occupation force. "I'm not so sure we have to, for starters," he said.

In an interview with Fox News Channel taped for broadcast on Monday night, Bush said he would tell the United Nations he made the right decision to go to war in Iraq despite his failure to obtain Security Council backing for the conflict.

He said, however, that it would be helpful for the global body to help write an Iraqi constitution or oversee elections.


U.S. commanders mainly blame secular Saddam loyalists for attacks on troops, running at about a dozen a day. Some Iraqis argue that resistance fighters are motivated by Islamic beliefs and revulsion at seeing their country under occupation.

Guerrillas are also targeting Iraqis cooperating with the occupiers. Saturday morning, gunmen shot and critically wounded Akila al-Hashemi, a Shi'ite career diplomat who is one of three women on the U.S.-appointed Governing Council.

Hashemi was in a critical but stable condition having undergone two operations, a senior official in Iraq's U.S.-led administration told reporters Sunday.

Despite the violence, officials have voiced determination to push on with efforts to transform Iraq after decades of authoritarian rule under Saddam.

Iraqi Finance Minister Kamel al-Keylani unveiled plans to open up Iraq to widespread foreign investment as economic decision-makers gathered in Dubai for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings.

"The reforms will significantly advance efforts to build a free and open market economy in Iraq, promote Iraq's future economic growth (and) accelerate Iraq's reentry into the international economy," he said in a statement.

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