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Posted: 12/8/2003 10:55:05 PM EDT
Car Bomb Injures 31 U.S. Troops in Iraq
7 minutes ago

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer

MOSUL, Iraq - A car bomb attack on barracks near the northern city of Mosul early Tuesday wounded 31 American soldiers, mainly with flying debris and glass, the military said. The injuries were not life-threatening


The attack came less than a day after insurgents shot and killed a soldier from the Army's 101st Airborne Division as he guarded a gas station in Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said in Baghdad.


"Four Iraqi males traveling in vehicles stopped approximately 50 meters (yards) from a gas station in Mosul and opened fire on coalition soldiers guarding the station," Kimmitt said of the attack Monday. "One coalition soldier died of gunshot wounds in that attack."


In Tokyo, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet approved a plan Tuesday to send soldiers to help in the reconstruction of Iraq (news - web sites) in the biggest deployment of Japanese troops overseas since World War II.


According to media reports, a total of 1,000 troops, including 600 ground forces, will be sent to southeastern Iraq to restore water services, offer medical and other humanitarian assistance and help rebuild schools and other infrastructure. Opposition leaders warn the deployment could draw the troops into actual fighting and violate Japan's postwar pacifist constitution.


Also Tuesday, a car drove up to the gate of the base of the 3rd Brigade of 101 Airborne division in the town of Talafar, 30 miles west of Mosul, spokesman Maj. Trey Cate said.


Guards opened fire on the vehicle and it blew up, he said.


A total of 31 soldiers were wounded, mostly by debris and flying glass. None of the injuries were lift-threatening, Cate said.


"Whether it was a suicide attack or not, I don't know," Cate said.


On Monday, three U.S. soldiers in Mosul were wounded when a bomb exploded as their patrol passed, a U.S. military spokesperson said on condition of anonymity.


Three other U.S. soldiers were killed and one injured Monday when two Stryker infantry carrier vehicles they were riding in rolled into a canal near Duluiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad. Hostile fire was not involved.


Kimmitt said Monday that there were 18 engagements between Iraqi guerrillas and U.S.-led coalition forces in the past week, a marked decline over previous weeks.


"These numbers are significantly lower than recent norms, although we anticipate and are fully prepared for any upturn in attacks in the days and weeks ahead," he said.


A total of 448 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion on March 20. Of those, 308 died in hostile action.


Witnesses in Mosul said dozens of U.S. soldiers cordoned the city's central neighborhood of al-Muthana during a raid Monday, inspecting cars and searching people walking in the streets. At least three helicopters flew overhead at low altitude.


"We are looking for bad guys," a soldier said without elaborating.


On Sunday, U.S. troops in Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad, seized $1.9 million in cash and false identification papers in a raid targeting a man suspected of financing insurgents, said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, spokeswoman for the 4th Infantry Division.





"They didn't catch the original target but they detained one of his relatives and seized the money," Aberle said.

Samarra was the site of heavy fighting Nov. 30 between Iraqi guerrillas and U.S. soldiers who were delivering new Iraqi currency to local banks.

In other developments Monday, a South Korean company said it would withdraw its 60 workers from a power line project in Iraq because gunmen killed two of its engineers. Seoul's Omu Electric Co. has been building transmission towers in the north of the country since October under contract with Washington Group International, based in Boise, Idaho.

The rollover of the Stryker vehicles occurred when an embankment collapsed on a rural road during combat patrol northeast of Duluiyah, Lt. Col. William MacDonald said.

The names of the soldiers were being withheld pending notification of kin. The soldiers were from the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat team.

The injured soldier was taken to a hospital in Balad, Iraq, MacDonald said. He did not release the soldier's condition.

Also Monday, Iraq's Governing Council chose a dentist to replace Aquila al-Hashimi, a Shiite Muslim member of the 25-seat group who was assassinated in September, a council statement said.

Salama al-Khufaji, a Shiite professor of dentistry at Baghdad University, replaced al-Hashimi, who was mortally wounded Sept. 20. Al-Hashimi was the highest Iraqi official killed by suspected loyalists of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

The council statement said al-Khufaji, one of three women on the council, comes from the southern Shiite holy city of Karbala.

Overseen by the U.S.-led coalition, the Governing Council was installed on July 13 and acts as an interim government.





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