New Attacks Wound 4 U.S. Troops in Iraq
Aug. 09, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ U.S. troops came under renewed attacks Saturday that wounded at least four soldiers, and a team of FBI investigators prepared to take control of the probe into the car bombing of the Jordanian Embassy.
Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade on patrol in the northern city of Kirkuk were fired on with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms early Saturday, said Lt. Col. Bill McDonald, spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division operating in the area.
Two soldiers were wounded in the explosion and were in stable condition, McDonald said. The troops returned fire, he said.
Also Saturday, soldiers west of Kirkuk opened fire on a car that ran a military checkpoint, wounding two Iraqis, McDonald said. The victims were evacuated to a Kirkuk hospital in stable condition, he said.
In south-central Baghdad, two soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb attack on their armored Humvee vehicle, said Maj. Todd Mercer of the 82nd Airborne Division.
In the southern city of Basra, which is controlled by British troops, about 1,000 angry residents protested in the streets over the lack of power, water and gas.
Witnesses told Associated Press Television News that three British soldiers were injured by stones, and two young Iraqi boys were wounded in the melee. Protesters burned tires outside the coalition and British headquarters.
Thursday's bombing of the Jordanian Embassy, which killed 19 people and injured at least 50 raised fears that al-Qaida-linked terrorists were at work in Iraq. The bombing was the first large-scale terrorist attack since Baghdad fell to U.S. forces April 9.
Authorities are looking at Ansar al-Islam, which U.S. officials claim is linked to al-Qaida, as a potential suspect, according to Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
``The one organization that we have confidence and that we know is in Iraq and in the Baghdad area is Ansar al-Islam,'' he said. ``It is unknown whether this particular organization was associated with the (bombing). Perhaps that'll become clear as we go down the road.
``But that is an al-Qaida-related organization and one that we are focusing attention on,'' Schwartz said.
Fewer than a dozen FBI agents were dispatched to secure and analyze evidence. They also will train Iraqi investigators. It was not clear when the team would begin work or how long it would stay.
``We will do all we can to help the Iraqi authorities find these people and bring them to justice,'' L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, said in a press release distributed by the Pentagon.
The Bush administration fears Iraqi police don't have the techniques or tools to properly investigate the deadly attack, according to a senior Justice Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity from Washington.
So far, American authorities have said, they do not believe terrorist groups like Ansar or any other foreign fighters have played a major role in the guerrilla war against American occupation forces.
They believe instead that the attacks are the work of remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime _ his Republican Guard, Fedayeen militia and intelligence services.
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ansar al-Islam was known for bombings and assassinations of Kurdish figures. But the group, which has included veterans of bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan, has not previously been linked to attacks on the scale of the embassy blast.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the group was a link between Baghdad and al-Qaida when he made his case for war to the U.N. Security Council in February. Others have questioned whether there was any connection to Saddam Hussein's regime.
U.S. forces knocked out Ansar-al-Islam's main headquarters in northeastern Iraq early in the war. Bremer has said the group has been rebuilding in the country, with surviving members filtering back from Iran.
AP writers D'Arcy Doran in Tikrit and Curt Anderson in Washington contributed to this report.