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Guerrillas Wound 3 GIs in Northern Iraq

August 12, 2003

AIN LALIN, Iraq (AP) _ Guerrillas wounded three American soldiers in northern Iraq, and a U.S. raid on a remote village near the Iranian border failed to capture a top fugitive suspected of plotting attacks on coalition forces.

In Basra, British troops restored badly needed electricity to parts of the southern city and supervised distribution of gasoline after two days of protests over fuel and power shortages.

In central Baghdad, two grenades were thrown from a car at a U.S. military checkpoint; soldiers returned fire, killing one Iraqi, witnesses said.

Meanwhile, the current president of the U.S.-picked Governing Council said the interim government postponed the appointment of Cabinet ministers by three weeks.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is serving as council president during August, said a 25-member committee has been formed to look into how to proceed with selecting a constitutional assembly. The members include judges, academicians and lawyers and reflects Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups.

In al-Shumayt, just north of Tikrit, guerrillas fired rocket-propelled grenades and detonated at least one homemade bomb, wounding three American soldiers, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald said. All three were in stable condition, he said.

Monday’s morning raid missed its main target, a former member of Saddam Hussein’s regime who is on the U.S. list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Young said.

Seventy suspects were taken into custody, he said. Ain Lalin is about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Calm has returned to Basra after weekend riots during which Iraqis hurled rocks and bricks at British troops to protest fuel, electricity and water shortages. Some said parts of the city had less than three hours of electricity a day, little or no water and a fuel shortage.

British military spokesman Capt. Hisham Halawi said coalition authorities began restoring electricity to the city late Sunday and were bringing 6.6 million gallons of fuel to Basra.

``When the people get what they want they are peaceful, but if they don’t, the British will see something else,″ warned Nors Mhibs, 60, who had been waiting for hours at a gas station in central Basra. ``I have six sons, I have six guns and I have an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade). I can make trouble any time.″

In Baqouba, 40 miles northeast of the capital, an American military policeman was killed in an explosion late Sunday.

``We had a suspicious package dropped off at the Baqouba police headquarters and an MP with the task force went out to investigate it,″ U.S. Army spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle said.

Two other MPs were wounded, she said.

The death brings to 262 the number of American troops killed in Iraq since the war began, according to the U.S. military. The British government has reported 43 deaths.

Meanwhile, two more American soldiers in Iraq have fallen ill with serious pneumonia, U.S. military officials said, bringing to 17 the number of U.S. troops who have contracted the ailment.

Officials have been unable to find a common cause for the illnesses, the U.S. military said.

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AP Writer Andrew England contributed to this report from Basra.