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U.S. Military Unit Suffers Violent Attack in Iraq - 2003-05-27

We begin in Iraq, where there’s been a series of attacks on U.S. troops by Iraqi assailants. The coalition forces have been busy. Two more of the most wanted officials from Saddam Hussein’s regime have been captured. All this, as work continues on rebuilding Iraq, and restoring security and stability there. VOA-TV’s Chris Simkins reports.

It was one of the most violent days in Iraq since major combat ended weeks ago. A U.S. military unit came under attack by an unknown number of assailants who used rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire against the Americans.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed and at least 9 others injured. A helicopter, which tried to rescue the soldiers, came under fire and crashed.

At least 2 of the attackers were shot and killed while 6 others were taken into custody. The incident happened in the Iraqi town of Fallujah, where support for Saddam Hussein’s fallen Baath party, remains strong. These Fullujah residents claim the attackers were resentful of the American presence.

“They come to Fullujah everyday at 11 and they block the road and they will not allow anyone to pass through, even the sick and injured people. They (U.S. Troops) insult and humiliate the people.”

In another sign the country remains a dangerous place, there was gunfire along the airport road in Baghdad. An Army Humvee was ambushed and blown up, killing another American soldier and injuring 3 others. Seven soldiers have died in attacks and accidents since Sunday.

Six weeks after Saddam Hussein was ousted from power there are still pockets of resistance for U.S. troops. U.S. Army Captain David Connolly, CAPTAIN DAVID CONNOLLY, U.S. ARMY
“These incidents serve as a reminder that we will face many more challenges and dangers throughout Iraq. However, we remain committed to our original objectives. The coalition came to Iraq to accomplish a couple of main key objectives. One was to remove the regime; the other was to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. Neither of these two tasks is now complete. We still have a lot of work to do.

In Baghdad Iraqi police continue to replace U.S. soldiers patrolling the streets. Former officers are required to sign a statement renouncing membership in the Baath Party. They are issued new uniforms in a sign that they are no longer Saddam’s police.

As security remains a concern, efforts to rebuild the country continue. The U.S. civil administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer announced plans for increased trade now that UN sanctions have been lifted. He also disclosed that more hidden money was found.

“A vault in the central bank that had been submerged underwater since yesterday has been opened and 250-million dollars was recovered undamaged.”

UN weapons inspectors are expected back in Iraq by the end of the week. They will not be conducting general searches for weapons of mass destruction, instead nuclear experts will try to determine how much, if any, nuclear material was looted from Iraq’s largest nuclear facility.