U.S. Expects More Iraq Violence

Friends and relatives grieve as they walk in a funeral procession behind the coffin holding the body of translator Ziyad Hamdi, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006, in Kirkuk, 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq. Hamdi, working as a translator for the US military, was shot dead and found south of the city.
The U.S. military predicted Thursday that violence would increase around Iraq as final results from last month's elections are released and political groups forge ahead with forming a new government.

Meanwhile, one of Iraq's top Sunni Arabs rejected a Shiite politician's declaration that there would be no substantive changes to the country's new constitution, calling that a divisive stance.

Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition force, said a series of "horrific attacks" that killed at least 500 people since the Dec. 15 elections were an indication that insurgents were trying to take the opportunity of the transition to a new government to destabilize the democratic process.

"As democracy advances in the form of election results and government formation, and as the military pressure continues, and the pressure generated by political progress increases, we expect more violence across Iraq," he said at a news briefing.

Final election results are expected early next week.

In other developments:

  • Violence this week has dropped considerably as the country celebrates Eid al-Adha, a four-day Islamic holiday. No violence had been reported as of midday Thursday.
  • U.S. Army soldiers killed six insurgents Wednesday in Baghdad, including two with suicide belts, the military said. They arrested one man and confiscated weapons.
  • Gunmen killed four people near Mosul on Wednesday, including a former senior member of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party. A roadside bomb also killed two policemen outside Samarra, north of Baghdad. And the U.S. military said seven bodies "with evidence of torture" were found at a sewage plant.
  • Four of the eight U.S. soldiers killed in the crash of an Army Black Hawk helicopter in northern Iraq last weekend were members of the Alaska National Guard, the Pentagon said Wednesday. One of the Guard soldiers was a female officer whose husband also is deployed in Iraq, her mother said. Also killed in the crash Saturday near Tal Afar were four civilian passengers.

    Alston said that as a new government starts coming together, "those committed to seeing democracy fail will see this time of transition as an opportunity to attack the innocent people of Iraq."

    He said the recent attacks were part of an "attempt to discredit and derail the progress of the Iraqi people"

    At least 121 people died last week in twin suicide attacks against a Shiite shrine in the holy city of Karbala, and a police recruiting center in Ramadi. A day earlier, 32 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a Shiite funeral in Muqdadiyah. Another 29 died in a Monday attack against the Interior Ministry in Baghdad.

    Sixteen U.S. troops died from hostile action, and eight died in a helicopter crash, the cause of which has yet to be determined.