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2 US  Soldiers Wounded in Baghdad; Suspected Guerrillas Seized in Tikrit - 2003-09-08


Two U.S. soldiers have been wounded in an attack in central Baghdad. U.S. soldiers arrested four suspected guerrillas in a raid earlier in the northern city of Tikrit.

The attack occurred as a U.S. military convoy was going through an underpass at one of the most congested intersections in downtown Baghdad. Unknown assailants threw what was described as a grenade or homemade bomb at the convoy, damaging two vehicles and turning one of them over.

A few hours earlier, U.S. troops stormed private homes in Tikrit, the hometown of former president Saddam Hussein, searching for weapons. They arrested four men suspected of supporting attacks against coalition forces.

U.S. military officials say such attacks are averaging more than 12 a day.

The head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said the nearly $21 billion for Iraqi reconstruction announced Sunday by President Bush shows that the U.S. government is committed to finish what it started in the country. "This is one of the largest non-military budget requests in American history. It amounts to more than 10 times more than the United States has ever spent in a year in any country," he said.

Mr. Bremer called the request a clear step along the path toward restoring Iraqi sovereignty. He said the next step toward full Iraqi sovereignty is for a constitutional conference to be held, perhaps in the coming months. He said the conference is to draft a new constitution that will be submitted to the people in a referendum and lead to national elections next year.

Many of Iraq's ministers, who were appointed last week, have begun taking over the job of administering the day-to-day operations of their ministries.

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he wants to re-establish control over Iraq's borders. Speaking at his first news conference, Mr. Zebari said Sunday he is worried that Iraq has become a magnet for foreign fighters. "People are flocking to Iraq to carry out their attacks on the coalition, to disrupt, to settle scores with the United States, with the coalition, and against the Iraqi people at the same time," he said.

Mr. Zebari said as a result, a high priority of his ministry is to revive the government's border authority.

The minister also said he expects the delegation he is leading to Cairo this week will be seated at the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting. The Arab League has refused to recognize the Iraqi interim government, saying it was not elected by the Iraqi people.

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