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US General Vows to Break Iraqi Cycle of Violence as More Soldiers Attacked

Attacks against U.S. military are continuing in Iraq, but the commander of coalition forces says the cycle of violence will be broken. The Coalition Provisional Authority also says it is committed to seeing elections take place in Iraq as soon as all the necessary preparations are made.

The U.S.-led coalition says a U.S. soldier was killed Thursday when his armored personnel carrier ran over a land mine on the road from central Baghdad to the city's airport. It was not clear whether the mine was newly laid or left over from the war.

In another attack, the coalition reported an attack late Wednesday north of Baghdad, in which a U.S. soldier was killed by small arms fire.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, who heads the coalition forces in Iraq, insisted the coalition will break the cycle of violence. "Every incident that we encounter, we learn from it," he said. "We adapt our procedures, both in patrolling and how we take care of these devices and also in how to find them. We communicate that across the force and that is something we do every single day."

General Sanchez has vowed to rout out remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime and foreign mercenaries working with them. He said the attackers may be becoming more sophisticated in the explosive devices they use, but he said they are still using basic ambush tactics.

The head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul Bremer, said earlier in the day the running of the government is gradually shifting to Iraqi hands. Speaking at reopening of the looted and fire-ravaged Foreign Ministry in Baghdad Thursday, Mr. Bremer said elections could be held by the middle of next year, if not sooner. "The question is how long will it take them to write a constitution and have it approved by the Iraqi people," said Mr. Bremer. "But it is certainly not unrealistic to think that we could have elections by mid-year 2004."

But he said before elections can take place Iraq has to conduct a census, define electoral boundaries and draw up an election law.

The 25-member Iraqi Governing Council is also expected to complete a constitution and submit it to the Iraqi people for a referendum.