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Security Issues Gain Greater Importance in Iraq - 2003-10-13

Attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces occur on a daily basis, averaging about 20 a day, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.

In less than 24 hours two U.S. soldiers were killed and a total of three injured in two separate incidents in Iraq.

A rocket-propelled grenade attack north of Baghdad killed one American soldier and wounded two others. The attack occurred in Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit.

Late Sunday a U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded when their Bradley fighting vehicle hit a land mine 220 kilometers north of Baghdad near the town of Bajii.

U.S. military officials noted that the number of attacks against coalition and Iraqi forces has been rising. They said, on average, there are about 20 attacks each day in Iraq. More than 50 attacks occurred Saturday and Sunday. In an effort to speed up the process of increasing security in the country, Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Charles Heatly says the coalition is in negotiations with Jordan on a $1.3 billion contract to help train Iraqi police and security personnel.

"We are in discussions at the moment with Jordanian authorities with a view to establishing a police training facility in Jordan," he said. "There are negotiations as of this morning and are still ongoing. The aim is to try to train some 30,000-40,000 new Iraqi police recruits over the next 18 months."

Mr. Heatly acknowledged that the coalition's negotiations with Jordan have angered some members of the U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council, who complained that such training should occur in Iraq. But, Mr. Heatly said the idea is to train as many recruits as soon as possible, and using other facilities would help speed up the process.

Mr. Heatly also said eight people died in the car bomb explosion Sunday in central Baghdad. U.S. officials had originally said six people were killed.

And, while coalition officials have almost exclusively blamed such attacks on loyalists to the previous regime and terrorists from outside of Iraq, they indicated attacks against coalition forces could also be the result of revenge killings for Iraqis who have lost their lives and from extremist religious elements in Iraq.