Latest Iraq Violence Targets Many

U.S. soldiers check the area of Tuesday night's explosion in Irbil, 350 km (200 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2003. AP

U.S. soldiers, their Danish counterparts and Iraqi civilians were targeted by insurgents' attacks in the 24 hours ending Wednesday, with Americans and Iraqis paying in blood.

Near Baghdad, a U.S. soldier was killed and one was wounded Tuesday evening when a homemade bomb exploded near a military vehicle on a supply route northeast of the capital, the U.S. Central Command said Wednesday. The death was the first to be reported by the U.S. military in eight days, although sporadic attacks had continued against occupying forces.

A suicide car bomber struck the U.S. intelligence headquarters in Irbil, a Kurdish security official said. He said four Iraqis were killed, including the bomber and a 12-year-old boy. Six Americans were wounded, three of them with serious injuries to their abdomen caused by flying glass.

Forty-one Iraqi's were hurt, the official said, adding that the suicide bomb vehicle was packed with TNT. He said several homes in the neighborhood, which was cordoned off by U.S. soldiers, were destroyed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity

For the third time in two weeks, anti-tank rockets were fired at, but missed, the headquarters of Denmark's 400-man military contingent in southern Iraq, the Danish military said Wednesday. No one was injured in the failed attack, Denmark's Army Operational Command said.

In other developments:

  • Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz endured tough questioning Tuesday from senators upset about plans to extend the tours of Reserve and National Guard soldiers and the mounting cost of the Iraq war.

  • Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., says the $87 billion President Bush is seeking to fund the rebuilding effort in Iraq will grow to more than $100 billion.

  • Military medical authorities say most of the soldiers in and around Iraq with unexplained, severe pneumonia had taken up smoking shortly before falling ill. The military is investigating 19 cases of severe pneumonia since March, including two fatalities.

  • Iraq's acting president called for Turkey to send as many as 10,000 peacekeeping troops under a U.N. mandate, providing they are deployed in the far west of the country away from Kurdish territory.

  • The Marines who remain in Iraq are nearing the end of their tour. The general who commanded the U.S. Marines during the war says the last group will leave Iraq by the first week of October.

  • British reinforcements being deployed to Iraq have delayed their departure from Britain by a day, defense officials said Wednesday. No reason was given for the delay. Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon announced Monday that Britain would deploy two more battalions to Iraq, or some 1,200 troops.

    Irbil is the largest city in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Northern Iraq has been the most stable part of the country since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

    A witness to the attack there, Jafar Marouf, a 31-year-old teacher, was visiting a friend Tuesday night on the quiet residential street when he saw a white KIA four-wheel drive approach quickly and then explode with the driver inside. Marouf was slightly injured and spoke with the AP in the hospital.

    The Kurdish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack was the work of al Qaeda. He gave no reason for that assessment, but said he was certain Osama bin Laden's organization was behind the attack.

    The Ansar al-Islam terrorist organization, with suspected ties to al Qaeda, was formerly based near Sulaymaniyah, about 30 miles east of Irbil and near the Iranian border.

    U.S. soldiers at the scene Wednesday refused to give any information. Dozens of what appeared to be Americans in civilian clothes and wearing flak jackets were coming and going from the scene of the blast in GMC four-wheel drive vehicles.

    U.S. soldiers had flown to the site by helicopter and were guarding the area together with local Iraqi Kurdish fighters.

    The Kurdish security official said U.S. intelligence officers worked in the bombed building, with some of the top officers also sleeping there. Others had quarters in two villas about 500 meters (yards) down the street.

    "It was a blasphemy to put their base in a civilian neighborhood," said Najib Abdullah, 50, the manager of a gas station nearby. He said he was in his office counting the day's proceeds when the blast occurred. "The whole neighborhood shook. Chunks of concrete were falling from the sky."

    The wounded included children from nearby houses and Iraqi Kurdish guards.

    Staff Sgt. Shane Slaughter, U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said that the six injured Americans were Department of Defense personnel. He did not say if they were military or civilian.

    He said that the military was investigating the bombing, which occurred Tuesday at 10:05 p.m. There were no claims of responsibility.

    Television pictures from Tuesday night showed Kurdish women wailing and men running in panic with a burning car behind them. A Kurdish man could be seen carrying a toddler with a bleeding head in his arms.

    The videotape also showed the four-wheel-drive vehicle that apparently carried the bomb was intact but badly burned. Its chassis was in one piece.

    Authorities in Irbil, about 200 miles north of Baghdad, called to residents over loudspeakers to donate blood for the wounded, CNN-Turk television said Tuesday night.

    It was the fifth significant bombing in Iraq in a months' time. Nineteen people died when the Jordanian Embassy was hit on Aug. 7, 23 died in the blast at the United Nations headquarters on Aug. 19, and more than 100 died in the attack on a mosque in Najaf on Aug. 29.
    • Joel Roberts

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