Roadside bomb kills 2 U.S. soldiers in Iraq
By BASSEM MROUE, ASSOCIATED PRESS
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A roadside bomb killed at least two U.S. soldiers Saturday in Mosul, and many parents kept children away from classes in the capital after leaflets attributed to Saddam Hussein's party warned of a "Day of Resistance" against the U.S. occupation.
Also Saturday, witnesses said an oil pipeline was on fire about 10 miles north of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, an area of widespread opposition to the U.S.-led occupation. Witnesses said they suspected sabotage because the blaze was preceded by an explosion.
Sabotage to pipelines and the decayed state of Iraqi's infrastructure have slowed efforts to revive the country's giant oil industry, considered the key to rebuilding this nation's economy, which has suffered from more than a decade of wars and sanctions.
The U.S. military said two U.S. soldiers were killed and two wounded in the roadside bombing in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, which Iraqi police initially reported as a land mine. Identities were withheld pending notification of relatives.
Iraqi police Lt. Walid Hashim said the men were inside two civilian cars when the blast occurred. He rushed to the scene and saw that the drivers were dead while the two passengers were both badly injured.
"I tried to pull one of the dead out but his leg was going to come off. They were cut all over by shrapnel (and) one was wounded in the abdomen and was moaning," Hashim said.
The two deaths would bring to 122 the number of American soldiers killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to hostile combat on May 1 when added to the total given by the Department of Defense on Friday. A total of 114 U.S. soldiers were killed between the start of the war March 20 and the end of April.
Six Iraqi men were arrested overnight in Tikrit on suspicion of responsibility for the Oct. 1 roadside explosion near Samarra that killed Command Sgt. Maj. James Blankenbecler, the military said Saturday. Blankenbecler, 40, of the Fort Hood, Texas-based 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, was the highest-ranking U.S. enlisted man to die in Iraq.
Another U.S. soldier was injured in Mosul late Friday when his patrol was attacked by a grenade or homemade bomb, the military said.
The latest attacks came after rumors swept Baghdad that bombings or other resistance action would strike the capital Saturday. A leaflet attributed to Saddam's ousted Baathist party declared Saturday a "Day of Resistance," and called for a three-day general strike.
It was difficult to gauge public response to the threat. Many shops in this city of 5 million people were open, but morning traffic appeared lighter than usual. Many parents kept their children home Saturday, the first day of the Iraqi work week.
At one boys' secondary school, Al-Jawad, only 80 of 500 students showed up for class, deputy principal Abdel Karim al-Azzawi said. "Parents are worried about their children," al-Azzawi said.
Classes were canceled at the Al-Huda girls' elementary school after only 23 of 700 pupils arrived, according to the principal, Sana Naji Abbas. More than half the teachers also stayed home, she said.
One teenage girl who did set out from home Saturday morning sounded a defiant note. "We heard that they want to bomb schools, but we weren't afraid," said Sabrin Talib, 17. "I came to school today."
Apart from businesses related to food, shops around the capital reported fewer customers than usual.
"People can stop shopping but they cannot stop buying food and this is the reason why I was not affected today," said Amir Jawad, who runs the al-Zeytoun bakery in Baghdad's downtown Irkheita market.
Police checkpoints around the city caused traffic jams. Many motorists were ordered to stop for inspections by policemen.
It appeared the strike call was less effective in Mosul and the southern city of Basra, where witnesses said most shops were open and traffic appeared normal.
Some Western governments to issue warnings, including the U.S. State Department, which advised Americans to be vigilant.
The Australian government also warned of "a credible imminent threat" to the area around the Al Hamra Hotel in central Baghdad, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lyndall Sachs said in Canberra.
She said staffers from the Australian government's mission in Baghdad have been "temporarily relocated to safer accommodations while we assess the threat further."
An Islamic clergymen's association in Mosul issued a statement Friday denouncing as sinful any Muslim's support for the Americans. "Supporting them is apostasy (and) a betrayal of religion."
Attacks against coalition forces escalated this week, starting with a missile barrage last Sunday against the Al Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad. The following day, four near-simultaneous suicide bombings killed about three dozen people and injured about 200 in the capital, prompting the international Red Cross, the United Nations and other organizations to withdraw foreign staff.
U.S. officials have blamed former Baath Party figures, foreign fighters and Islamic extremists for the upsurge.
newsobserver.com - Roadside bomb kills 2 U.S. soldiers in Iraq
: "Recent Bomb Attacks in Iraq
Monday, 27 October 2003: Baghdad: Four (4) bombings on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, including a homicide attack outside (using a car/ambulance) of the offices of the International Red Cross, killing at least ten people and wounding at least 15 more.
Sunday, 26 October 2003: Rocket attacks against the Al Rasheed Hotel, killing a US colonel and wounding at least 18 others. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was inside the hotel near the blast but was unhurt.
Tuesday, October 14 2003: A homicide suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle outside of the Turkish
Embassy, killing himself, a bystander, and wounding at least 13 others. This occurred following Turkey's announcement of agreeing to assist in post-war Iraq.
Sunday, 12 October 2003: Homicide car bombing outside of the Baghdad Hotel killed eight people and wounded at least 32 others.
Thursday, October 9 2003: A homicide bomber drove his car into a police station in the Sadr Ciy district of Baghdad, killing 9 people in addition to himself.
Thursday, 25 September 2003: A bomb planted at the hotel used by media offices (NBC) killed a guard and injured an NBC employee.
Monday, 22 September 2003: A homicide car bomber attacked a police checkpoint outside of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing himself, the Iraqi policeman who stopped him and wounded about 20 others.
Tuesday, 9 September 2003: A US Intelligence compound in northern Iraq was attacked by a homicide car bomber, killing three people and seriously wounding four US intelligence officers.
Friday, 29 August 2003: A car bomb exploded outside of the Mosque in Najaf where Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim was present. The blast killed al-Hakim and 85 oth"