U.S. Military Policeman Killed in Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A U.S. military policeman died in ongoing attacks on coalition troops and their allies, the U.S. command said Monday, as the U.S. Army intensified operations to root out the growing insurgency.
The brief statement said the MP was killed Sunday evening by a rocket-propelled grenade fired at a patrol in the town of Iskandariyah, 40 miles, south of Baghdad.
The death brought to 37 the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq this month. The downing last week of the Chinook and the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter made the first week of November the bloodiest for American forces since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1.
On Sunday, a senior Iraqi official warned that mounting violence may delay steps toward a new constitution, considered a major condition for returning the country to full Iraqi rule. And soldiers arrested 18 people in a deadly missile barrage last month that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz escaped, officials said.
L. Paul Bremer, the coalition’s chief administrator in Iraq, warned that the coalition could expect intensified attacks in coming months.
``We’re going to have increased attacks and increased terrorism because the terrorist can see the reconstruction dynamic is moving in our direction,″ Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, was quoted as saying in The Times newspaper of London.
``It will be more of a problem in the months ahead unless the intelligence gets better,″ The Times quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, U.S. forces intensified anti-insurgency operations west and north of Baghdad, areas which are seen as hotbeds of the anti-American revolt and where most of the coalition deaths occurred.
As part of the new tactic, U.S. F-16 jets dropped three 500-pound bombs in the Tikrit area and blasted at least three buildings early Saturday after the Black Hawk crashed _ apparently due to hostile fire.
Late Saturday, F-16s dropped three more bombs in the Fallujah area after a series of ambushes wounded three paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, the military said.
Lt. Col. George Krivo said there was a ``new focus″ in the north and west of Baghdad to find areas where Saddam loyalists ``and other noncompliant forces are operating.″
``We have picked up the intensity of our offensive operations and this is specifically manifested with the larger numbers of troops in the 82nd Airborne and other forces to the west,″ Krivo said, without giving details on the numbers of troops.
``We are on offensive operations,″ a U.S. officer said on condition of anonymity. ``You can expect to see an increase in the level of intensity and the amount of activity that is occurring, especially in those `challenging’ areas.″
In Baghdad, meanwhile, three mortars exploded late Sunday in Baghdad’s Karrada district, damaging a house but causing no injuries, police said. One officer speculated the target was the Technology University a short distance away.
A U.S. patrol came under small arms fire late Sunday in the capital’s Kamal Jumblatt Square. There were no casualties and the U.S. troops drove away immediately without shooting back.
In Tikrit, a U.S. official said Sunday that an American major general was aboard a military helicopter that flew with the Black Hawk that crashed there last week, killing six soldiers. The Black Hawk was apparently shot down by insurgents.
The helicopter carrying the general, whom the military refused to identify, landed safely, according to Maj. Josslyn Aberle, spokeswoman of the 4th Infantry Division.
The Black Hawk helicopter, however, burst into flames Friday and plummeted into a grassy field on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, military officials said, citing witnesses. Two of the dead were from the Department of the Army headquarters at the Pentagon, the military said.