CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar – Iraqi television on Friday broadcast statements by two Iraqi women it said blew themselves up in an attack on U.S. forces, apparently in the blast that killed three American soldiers in western Iraq.
U.S. military officials said Friday that one of the women was pregnant; they said it was impossible to know if she voluntarily took part in the attack.
The attack happened Thursday night about 10 miles southwest of the Haditha Dam when a car exploded at a U.S. checkpoint. The site is northwest of Baghdad and about 80 miles east of the Syrian border.
The Pentagon said the three soldiers killed were members of the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Benning, Ga.
"A pregnant female stepped out of the vehicle and began screaming in fear," a U.S. Central Command statement said. "At this point the civilian vehicle exploded, killing three coalition force members who were approaching the vehicle and wounding two others." The statement said the woman and the driver also were killed.
"These are not military actions. These are terrorist actions," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Central Command deputy director of operations.
Iraqi television, monitored in Qatar, said the women were those involved in the attack on coalition forces. The tapes had been broadcast earlier by the Arabic satellite station Al-Jazeera.
The two women, each standing in front of the Iraqi flag, right hand on the Quran placed on a table in front of her and left hand brandishing an automatic rifle.
A woman who identified herself as "martyrdom-seeker Nour Qaddour al-Shammari" swore on the holy book of Islam "to defend Iraq ... and take revenge from the enemies of the (Islamic) nation, Americans, imperialists, Zionists" and Arabs who have submitted to the foreigners.
"We say to our leader and holy war comrade, the hero commander Saddam Hussein, that you have sisters that you and history will boast about," said the woman, who wore the red-checked keffiyeh, an Arab headscarf.
In a separate video, another woman, who identified herself as Wadad Jamil Jassem, stood in a similar pose.
"I have devoted myself for jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and against the American, British and Israeli infidels and to defend the soil of our precious and dear country," she said.
The videotapes were similar to those distributed of Palestinian suicide bombers after attacks against Israelis.
Both women were in long, loose-fitting dresses and it was not clear if one might have been pregnant.
In the first suicide attack against American forces, a bomber posing as a taxi driver pulled up close to a roadblock north of Najaf on Saturday, waved to American troops for help, then blew his vehicle up as they approached, killing four.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein rewarded the officer, honoring him with a posthumous promotion, two new medals and a huge financial windfall for his family.
The Iraqi government has said suicide bombings will be a "routine military policy" and has promised more attacks.
The Pentagon identified the three slain Americans as Capt. Russell B. Rippetoe, 27, of Colorado, Staff Sgt. Nino D. Livaudais, 23, of Utah and Spc. Ryan P. Long, 21, of Seaford, Del. The hometowns for Rippetoe and Livaudais were not available, it said.