Published July 03, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq – At least nine more Americans were injured in Iraq Thursday as coalition forces continued to flatten Iraqi resistance fighters still loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Three of the troops were injured in two more ambush attacks against U.S. forces. The latest spate of violence also left two Iraqis dead and several wounded, including a 6-year-old.
Also Thursday, a soldier from the 1st Armored Division (search) died in a non-combat incident, the military said. The soldier's name was withheld until relatives were notified.
In Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, a two-Humvee Army convoy struck an explosive, wounding six American soldiers. Iraqi attackers also ambushed coalition patrols in the capital later in the day, wounding three other Americans.
An explosion also went off during a demonstration in Baqubah (search), northeast of Baghdad, by Iraqis angry over the U.S. military's detention of the town's top Shiite (search) cleric. One Iraqi was killed and several wounded.
The violence came one day after President Bush vowed that anti-American attacks would not keep the United States from fulfilling its mission in Iraq.
"There are some who feel like conditions are such that they can attack us there," Bush said at the White House Wednesday. "My answer is: Bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation ... We're not going to get nervous."
American troops have been targeted daily in the past weeks by ambushes and hit-and-run attacks, blamed on Saddam loyalists and others.
Later Thursday morning during the ambush attacks, an Iraqi hard-liner fired a grenade at a U.S. Army convoy in downtown Baghdad, wounding two soldiers; troops who returned fire killed an Iraqi bystander and injured others, witnesses said.
As the convoy moved along Baghdad's Haifa Street, a man fired a rocket-propelled grenade while standing in a car's sunroof; the grenade exploded beneath an Army Humvee, said Saddam Juwad, 22, a bystander. Most of the soldiers jumped from the Humvee before the explosion, Juwad said. One soldier who appeared to be injured was evacuated, Juwad and other witnesses said.
Another limping U.S. soldier sobbed and shook as a comrade helped him into a car.
As the attackers sped away, U.S. soldiers began firing wildly, Juwad and other witnesses said, killing the driver of another car. As a Humvee sat burning in the street an hour after the attack, witnesses pointed to a pool of blood on the street where the victim had fallen.
"We heard an explosion. I threw myself to the ground and my brother was shot," said Fuad Hassan Alwan, a bystander at the scene. "The Americans shot at us. My brother has two bullet wounds and he is now in the hospital."
In a separate ambush Thursday, a sniper fired on a patrol in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Kadamiyah, wounding a soldier from the Army's 1st Armored Division, Compton said. Soldiers fired back, killing the attacker and wounding a six-year-old boy who was with the man, Compton said.
The soldier and the boy were in stable condition in a military hospital, said Sgt. Patrick Compton, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.
In Baqubah, witnesses said a plastic bag filled with explosives blew up in the middle of a crowd of a few hundred Iraqi demonstrators, who were quietly protesting the U.S. Army's detention of Ali Abdul Kareem al-Madani (search), the city's top Shiite cleric. Witnesses said one man was killed and five wounded.
But Capt. Josh Felker of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry division (search) said the explosion occurred when a grenade blew up in a man's hands, injuring three bystanders. Felker said the man may have been preparing to toss the grenade over a wall surrounding a local government compound that also houses a U.S. military office.
After the blast, protesters screamed and ran in different directions. U.S. soldiers patrolling from atop a nearby building fired into the air.
Kahtan Adnan, an aide to al-Madani, said U.S. troops raided the cleric's home in Baqubah, arresting him, his son and eight others at the home. On Thursday morning, many of the cleric's books were strewn about on the floor of the home and several vehicles outside had their windshields smashed.
Witnesses said the U.S. troops caused the damage.
"I am an Iraqi Muslim," said Qassem al-Saadi, one of the demonstrators demanding al-Madani's release. "They humiliated our leader and desecrated his holy books."
Compton said he had no information about arrests in Baqubah.
Anger at the U.S. troops has been high, especially in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, where an explosion at a mosque killed at least 10 people on Monday. Locals blamed the United States, but Central Command said Wednesday that the explosion was "apparently related to a bomb manufacturing class that was being taught inside the mosque."
The statement also said coalition forces would not enter the mosque out of respect but were helping Iraqi police with the investigation.
In another development, the Iraqi National Museum briefly opened its doors to the press Thursday. Looting at the museum provoked an international outcry after Baghdad fell on April 9, but U.S. occupation authorities say many of the museum's most important items -- including the world-famous treasures of Nimrud -- have been accounted for. Still, scores of items remain missing, said museum director Donny George.
The museum won't open to the public for about two years, George said.
Insurgents have stepped up their attacks in recent days, hurling grenades, ambushing convoys and shooting troops patrolling the streets. At least 26 U.S. troops have been killed in hostile fire since Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1.
To quell the burgeoning resistance, U.S.-led forces have launched a series of lightning raids across Iraq. One such operation northeast of Baghdad, dubbed Sidewinder, entered its fifth day Thursday. Since Wednesday, the Army's 4th Infantry Division detained 32 Iraqis in six separate raids as part of Operation Sidewinder, the military said Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.