Four US Soldiers Injured In Iraq

soldier belonging to the 82nd airborne removes ammunition from a U.S. military police humvee that was badly damaged by an improvised explosive device as it was traveling on a road in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday Aug. 9, 2003. Maj. Todd Mercer, who was on the scene, two soldiers were injured in the incident
At least four American soldiers were wounded in guerrilla attacks Saturday, and the U.S.-led coalition said it thwarted a diesel-fuel smuggling operation, boarding a ship off the port of Umm Qasr and forcing it to return to shore.

A 173rd Airborne Brigade on patrol in the northern city of Kirkuk came under rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire, said Lt. Col. Bill McDonald, spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division operating in the area.

Two soldiers wounded in the explosion were in stable condition, McDonald said. The troops returned fire, he said. There was no information on casualties among the attackers.

In south-central Baghdad, two soldiers were wounded in a roadside-bomb attack on their armored Humvee, said Maj. Todd Mercer of the 82nd Airborne Division. The military provided no details on the soldiers' condition.

And in the southern city of Basra, which is controlled by British troops, about 1,000 angry residents protested in the streets over cuts in electricity and water service and lines at gasoline stations.

Three British soldiers were injured by stones, and two young Iraqi boys were wounded in the melee, witnesses told Associated Press Television News. A British military spokesman denied any soldiers were hurt.

In other developments:

  • The military announced Saturday that Saddam Hussein's former interior minister - No. 29 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis - is in U.S. custody. Mahmud Dhiyab Al-Ahmad surrendered to coalition forces Friday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. The military had announced his capture in July, but on Saturday said that was an error.
  • CBS News Reporter Charles D'Agata, in Baghdad, says U.S. troops Saturday arrested a top Baath party militia commander in Fallujah, the town where several attacks on U.S. forces have been carried out.
  • President Bush said Friday, and repeated in his weekly radio address Saturday, that good progress has been made in Iraq in the 100 days since he declared an end to major combat. Mr. Bush says Iraq is more secure, banks have reopened, and improvements have been made in the country's infrastructure. But he says he grieves for the U.S. troops who have died.
  • CBS News Reporter Lisa Barron, in Baghdad, says many Iraqis don't agree with Mr. Bush's upbeat assessment. She notes that electricity is still spotty, joblessness stands at over 60 percent, violent crime in Baghdad is soaring, and ethnic conflicts are mounting.
  • The New York Times reports in its Saturday editions that engineering experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency have come to believe that the most likely use for two mysterious trailers found in Iraq was to produce hydrogen for weather balloons rather than to make biological weapons.
  • The U.S. military in Baghdad said troops acting on a tip from an Iraqi seized and destroyed 24 rocket-propelled grenades, improvised explosives and other weapons.
  • In two other raids in and around Baghdad in the previous 24 hours, U.S. troops also seized one surface-to-air missile and captured 13 Saddam loyalists with 47 AK-47s, the military said.

    L. Paul Bremer, the American administrator of Iraq, announced the seizure of the ship during a news conference for Arab journalists.

    The British royal ship HMS Sutherland seized the tanker M/V Navstar on Friday night, carrying at least 2,420 tons of diesel "critically needed in Iraq," Bremer said.

    The crew will be turned over to Iraqi authorities for prosecution, he added. The ship's owner and country of registration could not immediately be determined.

    "The ship and its contents will be confiscated and become property of the Iraqi people. This is good news," Bremer said.

    A team of FBI investigators, meanwhile, searched the bombed Jordanian Embassy early Saturday and planned to return to the scene Sunday, U.S. soldiers guarding the compound said. The embassy was hit by a car bomb Thursday that killed 19 people.

    The attack rattled Baghdad residents who feared it signaled a rise of terror tactics in the already violent Iraqi capital. Bremer said the al-Qaida linked Ansar al-Islam group was at the top of his list of suspected terrorist organizations operating in the country.

    "We know that we have a terrorist threat in this country. Among the terrorist groups that we are concerned about Ansar al-Islam is certainly is high on the list," the former counterterrorism expert and Reagan-era diplomat told journalists.

    Ansar, many of whose members were said to have trained in al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, operated out of a fortress in northeast Iraq that was heavily bombed by U.S. cruise missiles early in the war. U.S. officials suspect the group is reconstituting in the Baghdad region, as surviving members return from Iranian refuge.

    The Bush administration said it sent FBI agents to Baghdad to check the Jordanian Embassy out of concern the Iraqi police did not have the techniques or tools to properly investigate the deadly attack, a senior Justice Department official said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity from Washington.

    So far, American authorities have said, they do not believe terrorist groups like Ansar or any foreign fighters have played a major role in guerrilla assaults on U.S. forces.

    Instead, they believe the attacks are the work of remnants of Saddam's regime - his Republican Guard, Fedayeen militia and intelligence services.

    Also Saturday, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV broadcast a videotape of a group of men saying they belong to three Islamic groups - "White Banners," "Muslim Youth" and "Mohammed's Army" - and claiming responsibility for recent attacks on U.S. troops in Baghdad's al-Rashid and Karadah neighborhoods.

    The men, their faces covered with red kaffiyeh headscarves, warned that "the foreign troops ... should be attacked in order to show to the world that we are against the occupation" of Iraq.

    They condemned the attack on the Jordanian Embassy as an act of "sabotage ... by spies and traitors."

    It was not immediately possible to confirm whether the tape was authentic.