Three Brit Troops Killed In Iraq

U.S. military vehicles pass the collapsed section of the United Nations headquarters caused by Tuesday's bomb attack Saturday, Aug. 23, 2003, in Baghdad, Iraq. Some U.N. staff returned to work in tents set up at the battered Canal Hotel compound. Investigators and soldiers continue to search piles of debris there for human remains and clues in the deadly suicide truck bombing Tuesday that killed at least 23 people, including the top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
AP
The death toll among coalition forces shot up Saturday when three British soldiers were killed in a guerrilla attack in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra.

American forces reported killing two Iraqi Turkomen who opened fire when the U.S. soldiers arrived to put down a bloody ethnic clash that killed at least 10 people in two northern cities.

Despite continuing violence, terror attacks and sabotage, the American administrator for Iraq said the U.S.-led coalition would not slow efforts to rebuild the country, shattered by decades of war and 13 years of U.N. sanctions.

"We have never hidden the fact that we have security problems in Iraq," L. Paul Bremer told a news conference.

Also in Baghdad, U.N. workers who had not left the country - either fearing for their safety or for medical treatment - went back to work in a cluster of tents set up at the battered Canal Hotel compound.

Investigators and soldiers searched piles of debris there for human remains and clues in the deadly suicide truck bombing Tuesday that killed at least 23 people, including the top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.

In other developments:

  • President Bush vowed in his weekly radio address Saturday that he won't retreat in his battle against terrorists, despite the bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and the bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed at least 21. "Terrorists commit atrocities because they want the civilized world to flinch and retreat so they can impose their totalitarian vision," he said. "There will be no flinching in this war on terror, and there will be no retreat."
  • CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart reports U.S. military officials see indications that secular Baath Party members still loyal to Saddam Hussein and Islamic extremists of Al Qaeda, who normally would be "loath to associate with each other," may be starting to cooperate in planning attacks on coalition interests.
  • Mr. Bush had said Friday that "foreign elements" are infiltrating Iraq -- and may be aiding the recent rash of attacks there. He blamed both Saddam Hussein's loyalists and what he called "al Qaeda-type fighters." He says he's optimistic more nations will indeed send troops to bolster the coalition in Iraq.
  • A top Russian diplomat said Saturday that any proposals to broaden the international military presence in Iraq should include a more significant postwar role for the United Nations.

    At the bombed-out U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, computers and office equipment were moved into portable, air-conditioned offices flown in from Italy set up beside the tents. Inside, staff greeted each other with embraces as they resumed their work.

    "We are moving forward," Ramiro Lopes da Silva said on his first day on the job as acting head of the U.N.'s Iraq mission. His right hand was still bandaged and he wore bandages on on his forehead and ear covering cuts inflicted by the blast. He had been de Mello's deputy.

    Bremer said it was too early to speculate on who carried out the U.N. bombing.

    The top American in occupied Iraq also addressed reports that he and the Governing Council he established as an interim government were increasingly at odds. He said there was concern over the coalition's inability to fully restore electric service.

    "They share our frustration with not being able to restore essential services to prewar levels," Bremer said, and he announced the coalition had set an end-of-September goal for getting the lights back on permanently.

    Bremer also said he had encouraged the 25-member council to reach out to the Iraqi people to join in the reconstruction and security of Iraq.

    As the U.N. resumed work Saturday, staff members complained that the U.S.-led coalition had done little to provide security in the area before the bombing.

    "It was the coalition's fault, because it was their job to watch the parking area where the bombing happened, ... but it seems they were incapable of that," said security officer Mohammed Abdul Aziz.

    The U.S.-led Coalition claims responsibility for security in the country as a whole but says it has no obligation to guard specific sites such as the U.N. headquarters and diplomatic missions. U.S. troops are, however, guarding locations such as Iraqi banks and the oil ministry.

    But Maj. Mark Johnston said soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division had temporarily taken control of security at the bombed hotel, that became U.N. headquarters in Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War.

    "It's still a dangerous site. We are still in the recovery stage," he said.

    Eighty-six seriously wounded U.N. workers were airlifted out of Iraq for medical care.

    Two U.N. employees were still unaccounted for and an unknown number of people - visitors to the building - were still buried in the rubble. The U.N.'s official death toll stood at 20. However, independent checks by The Associated Press at area hospitals showed at least 23 died in the blast.

    CBS News Reporter Lisa Barron, in Baghdad, says, "The U.N. is stressing that the bombing won't force it to give up its political, economic and humanitarian work in Iraq. A colleague of de Mello revealed at Friday's memorial service that de Mello told coalition forces trying to rescue him, 'Don't let them pull the mission out.'"

    But in the short-term, Barron points out, it's clear that the mission "will be severely affected." Up to half the Baghdad-based staff will be gone by Monday. In addition those killed and the evacuation of those wounded in the attack, others traumatized by it have been authorized to leave.

    The British military in Basra said a two-vehicle convoy was attacked by a group of gunmen in a pickup truck as the soldiers were traveling through the center of Basra on a routine patrol at 8:30 a.m.

    CBS News Reporter Charles D'Agata says, "It's a rare attack on British troops -- Basra has been relatively peaceful in comparison to Baghdad and the "Sunni Triange" north and west of the capital."

    As of Saturday, the British government has reported 48 deaths since the war began. The American military says 273 U.S. soldiers have died since the beginning of military operations. Denmark's military has reported one death.

    On or since May 1, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 135 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, according to the latest military figures. Counting only combat deaths, 65 Americans and 11 Britons have died since the Bush declaration.

    Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at statues of two Turkomen heroes in the northern city of Kirkuk late Saturday as gunfire punctuated the night at the end of a second day of ethnic violence in which at least 10 people died here and in a city to the south.

    There was no indication of who was shooting, but Turkomen and Kurds had fought for two days running after the Kurds reportedly damaged a newly reopened Turkomen Muslim shrine in Tuz Kharmato on Friday.

    Squads of seven police were stationed at each of the statues after the attacks.

    The ethnic violence began Friday night in Tuz Kharmato, 110 miles north of Baghdad. U.S. forces responded and killed the two Turkomen tribesmen and wounded two others after the Americans were fired on when they arrived to put down the outbreak of ethnic fighting, said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, 4th Infantry Division spokeswoman. She said it was the first resumption of ethnic conflict in the tense region since May.

    Capt. David L. Swenson of the 173 Airborne Brigade in Tuz Kharmato told The Associated Press Saturday that several hundred Turkomen protesters had taken to the streets. Swenson said three Turks and five Kurds were killed and 13 people were wounded in the Friday melee.

    On Saturday, the violence spread to neighboring Kirkuk, 140 miles north of Baghdad. Kirkuk Mayor Abdul Rahman Mustafa, a Kurd, told the AP two people were killed and several were wounded. He did not identify the victims' by ethnicity.

    According to both CNN-Turk television and private NTV television in Ankara, Turkey, hundreds of Turkomen, carrying blue Turkomen flags, marched on the governor's office. Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported two Turkomen were shot and killed and 11 wounded by Patriotic Union of Kurdistan forces.

    Kurds and Turks have been embroiled in ethnic hatred for centuries and have killed each other in the thousands.