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2 Missing US Soldiers Found Dead in Iraq - 2003-06-28


The U.S. military says two soldiers missing since late Wednesday have been found dead.

The U.S. Central Command says the bodies of the two U.S. Army soldiers were recovered about 30 kilometers north of Baghdad. U.S. ground troops and helicopters had been scouring the area since the men disappeared Wednesday night.

A brief CENTCOM statement gave no details about the cause or time of death. On Friday, the Central Command said three suspects in the abduction had been arrested.

The CENTCOM statement did not say whether the soldiers' light armored vehicle had been found. Coalition forces fear the captured Humvee could be used to stage terrorist attacks on other U.S. troops.

There have been almost-daily attacks on U.S. forces in recent weeks, as resistance to the three-month-old coalition occupation has grown. The death toll is climbing rapidly. Six U.S. soldiers have been killed in attacks in the last three days.

Earlier, a U.S. military spokesman said one soldier was killed late Friday in a grenade attack on a U.S. convoy in northern Baghdad. Four more soldiers and a civilian Iraqi translator were wounded.

The incident took place in the Thawra neighborhood, an impoverished and largely Shiite area that was called Saddam City before the war.

Several key oil installations and the Baghdad power grid have also been damaged, leaving the capital city with only sporadic electricity service.

With temperatures climbing into the mid-40s, the lack of electricity - and thus air-conditioning - has meant tempers are near the boiling point.

U.S. military officials blame the attacks on remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, who are trying to destabilize the country even further than it already is. But popular discontent is also rising, with Iraqi civilians complaining vocally about the lack of security and electricity, and blaming the Americans for failing to provide them.

Unemployment has also been high since the war, with many parts of the Iraqi economy still shut down. Several thousand Iraqi men gathered outside the Baghdad zoo Saturday to find out which of them would win the handful of coveted jobs being offered by Iraq's coalition administrators.

Adil al-Juboory, 35, was carrying his three-year-old son through the crowd. He says he used to work as a painter, but now he is unemployed. He says his wife is threatening to divorce him because he has no salary and no money.

A U.S. soldier standing guard nearby said he thought there might be about 80 jobs available for security guards.

Most people in the crowd had no idea how many jobs were actually on offer. They did not even know what kind work they were applying for.

Amid the confusion, the crowd was growing anxious.

"I want you to ask those Americans, if they really have jobs for us Iraqis, or if they are just playing some kind of game," Muaid Hussein said.

Mr. Hussein says he hopes this will be a good chance for jobless Iraqis like him to start earning a living again.

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