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Attacks on US Forces Also Affecting UN Operations in Iraq - 2003-06-20


Increasing attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, and against Iraqis cooperating with the coalition, continue to make security the top concern for the U.S. provisional authority. Those attacks, along with rampant crime, are also affecting United Nations operations, delivery of electrical power and the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

American troops have come under almost daily attacks and ambushes in recent weeks.

On Thursday one soldier was killed and two were wounded when unknown assailants fired a rocket propelled grenade at a U.S. military ambulance just south of Baghdad. Earlier in the week a coalition-run humanitarian office came under mortar attack north of the capital, killing one Iraqi and injuring 12 others.

The coalition blames supporters of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein for these incidents and is conducting a nationwide security sweep against these armed groups.

United Nations spokeswoman Veronique Taveau says coordinated attacks against the coalition are of great concern. "There is an increased incidence of well-organized attacks against the coalition forces as well as Iraqi police stations. Intimidation is reported against newly appointed local authorities working closely with the coalition. There are reports that leaflets calling Iraqis to armed resistance against the coalition and offering reward for killing coalition members are being distributed," she said.

Ms. Taveau, who works for the Office of the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, says aid agency vehicles have been attacked on the road between Baghdad and the Jordanian border, and along the road between Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul.

U.N. officials also say power distribution plants have been sabotaged and vehicles of workers stolen, severely affecting the supply of electricity.

Ms. Taveau says the attacks along with rampant crime are fueling a climate of general insecurity. "We have noticed that very few women, just to take that example, are driving cars alone because they are too afraid because of hijacking or looting. We have noticed also that at night there are very few women walking in the street because of the security issue," she said.

Ms. Taveau says the United Nations has raised the crime and security issues with the U.S.-led provisional authority. She says there has been some improvement and a reduction in random shootings. But, she says security is still a major problem and is affecting U.N. operations in the country.

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