Published October 27, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Baghdad's post-Ramadan calm held into a fifth day Friday as the military announced the death of another U.S. serviceman and a flood of troops continued combing dangerous neighborhoods for a kidnapped American soldier.
There were only two reported violent deaths in the capital and eight elsewhere in the country. Although authorities in Suwayrah and Kut, both south of Baghdad, reported pulling nine more bodies from the Tigris River, tortured and shot to death.
The U.S. military refused to confirm the identity of the kidnapped U.S. soldier, who is of Iraqi-decent, on the grounds that it might put family members living in Iraq in jeopardy.
Chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, told a news briefing Thursday that U.S. and Iraqi forces were making an "intensive effort" to locate the soldier. On Friday U.S. troops sealed off the Karadah district, where the kidnapping reportedly took place.
The soldier was last seen in the Green Zone, the heavily fortified central Baghdad region that houses the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government.
He reportedly left the Green Zone at 2:30 p.m. Monday without authorization. His wife had been visiting Baghdad family members at the end of Ramadan and the start of the Eid al-Fitr feasting holidays.
The U.S. military said a soldier had died in dangerous Diyala province just northeast of Baghdad, raising to 97 the number of American forces killed in October -- the fourth highest monthly toll since the war began in March 2003.
The quiet in Baghdad, which has proven illusive over the longer term, followed a day of bloody house-to-house fighting outside a chaotic city to the north in which 43 people were killed.
The battle between Sunni insurgents and Iraqi police near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killed one civilian and 24 police. U.S. troops later joined the fight, aiding in a counterattack in which 18 insurgents died, eight were wounded and 27 captured, the military said.
The U.S. military, in the 43rd month of the Iraqi war, said insurgent attacks have traditionally spiked during Ramadan, in part because some Muslims believe dying as a martyr during month of fasting bestows additional blessings in the paradise. The end of the month is followed by Eid al-Fitr, a three-day holiday of feasting and visiting among relatives and friends.
Since the end of Ramadan, murders in parts of Baghdad where security forces have established a firm presence have fallen by 10-20 percent, Caldwell said. He speculated that was a result of the holiday festivities, as well as massive deployment of U.S. troops searching for the kidnapped soldier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.