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Iraq

Senior Iraqi official kidnapped; 5 more Americans killed

Associated Press
Published August 11, 2005


BAGHDAD - Gunmen kidnapped a senior Interior Ministry official in the heart of the Iraqi capital Wednesday, and the U.S. military reported that five more American soldiers had been killed.

The latest violence came as Iraqi politicians intensified talks to try to meet a Monday deadline for finalizing a constitution.

Brig. Gen. Khudayer Abbas, chief of the administrative affairs office in the Interior Ministry, was dragged from his car on Andalus Square and taken away in another vehicle, said police Maj. Abbas Mohammed Salman.

No group claimed responsibility. The Interior Ministry supervises police and elite paramilitary units that are at the forefront of the fight against insurgents.

Four U.S. soldiers were killed shortly before midnight Tuesday when insurgents attacked their 10-member patrol as it investigated explosions near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad.

A fifth Marine was killed Tuesday by small arms fire near Habaniyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad.

The Beiji attack was launched when insurgents detonated a roadside bomb, then poured rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire on the American unit, the U.S. command said. Five soldiers and a civilian contractor were wounded.

Late Wednesday, five Iraqi soldiers were killed and two were wounded when insurgents attacked a checkpoint about 12 miles south of Beiji, police said.

Names of the U.S. soldiers killed in Beiji were not released.

The deaths brought the number of American troops killed this month in Iraq to 37. At least 1,841 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003.

Elsewhere, five U.S. soldiers were slightly injured when a car bomb exploded in a western Baghdad neighborhood. Four civilians and three police were killed, said 1st Lt. Thair Mahmoud.

In western Iraq, U.S. Marines announced the end of a weeklong offensive in the Euphrates Valley codenamed Operation Quick Strike. Twenty Marines were killed last week as Operation Quick Strike got under way.

They included six Marine snipers killed Aug. 1 near Haditha. Two days later, 14 Marines and a civilian translator died when a bomb hit their armored vehicle.

Marines said nine car bombs were discovered during the sweep, the latest in a series of operations aimed at curbing insurgent activity in the volatile Euphrates valley - a major infiltration route for foreign fighters from Syria.

The Bush administration is hoping political progress will deflate the Sunni Arab-led rebellion and enable the United States and its international partners to begin withdrawing troops next year.

Key to that strategy is a democratic constitution followed by elections in December. Iraq's parliament is to approve the draft charter by Monday, but major differences among ethnic and political factions threatened to delay completion of the document.

[Last modified August 11, 2005, 00:44:04]


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