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Roadside Bomb Kills U.S. Soldier in Iraq

December 8, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Guerrillas killed a U.S. soldier with a roadside bomb in northern Iraq on Sunday, and a U.S. military commander said insurgent attacks might not abate even if American troops kill or capture Saddam Hussein.

A soldier from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division died and two others in his unit were wounded when rebels detonated a bomb as a their convoy drove through the center of Mosul at midday, Master Sgt. Kelly Tyler said.

``I heard an explosion and came running toward the site of the attack and saw three soldiers, one of them covered with blood,″ said Bahaa Hussein, a student. Mosul is 250 miles north of Baghdad.

The top commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said attacks could surge ahead of a July 1 deadline for a transfer of authority from the U.S.-led coalition to a transitional Iraqi government.

``We expect to see an increase in violence as we move forward toward sovereignty at the end of June,″ Sanchez said.

``The killing or capturing of Saddam Hussein will have an impact on the level of violence, but it will not end it,″ he said. ``It won’t be the end-all solution.″

``It’s a needle in a haystack,″ he said of the hunt for the ousted Iraqi leader. ``Clearly we haven’t found the right haystack ... We are moving under the assumption that he is still in the country, that he is still operating.″

After a daylong trip to Iraq on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he wants senior commanders in Iraq to consider whether the Pentagon underestimated how many U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces would be needed before a sovereign Iraqi government takes over next summer.

He said he worried that the current goal of 220,000 Iraqi security forces may not be able to be increased later if need be.

``I worry that budgets will begin to get committed, and we may not know if we need more until sometime, for example, in February or March or April,″ Rumsfeld said on the flight to Washington, arriving early Sunday. By then, he said, the money might not be available.

The number of Iraqis now in uniform is now said to be about 140,000, many of whom were rushed through training programs. Rumsfeld sees the buildup of those forces as the key to completing the military mission there in the aftermath of Saddam’s deposed dictatorship.

In Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit, children took a break from a soccer game to taunt U.S. soldiers on patrol with chants of: ``We will give our blood, we will give our lives for Saddam.″

``Saddam is free, he is here, he walks Tikrit in disguise,″ taunted Mohammad Ali Mustafa, a 10-year-old boy who cursed the U.S. soldiers. ``They are occupiers, they fire on us. Saddam is our father.″

In Baghdad, the U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Division sent almost 1,500 soldiers on a sweep through the capital’s al-Mansour district, raiding apartment buildings and detaining 43 people, including a dozen suspected guerrillas. The raids netted 215 AK-47 automatic rifles, 10 grenades and bomb-making gear.

Members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council gave different versions of progress on a statute that would establish a war-crimes tribunal that could try Saddam and his top aides.

One member, Mahmoud Othman, said the council had reached agreement on the statute and planned to send it to the U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer, on Monday for his signature. But another, Yonadam Kanna, said negotiations were continuing.

Near the town of Samarra, some 70 miles north of Baghdad, a bomb derailed eight of 20 carriages on a train heading from Baghdad to Mosul on Saturday evening, said Abdel-Nasser Abdel-Rahman, a railway official. There were no injuries.

Train service between the capital and Mosul will be disrupted for five days, Abdel-Rahman said. Bottles of water, apparently part of the train’s cargo, were scattered around the derailed carriages.

``We’re conducting our investigation, but we think that remnants of the former regime are behind the attack,″ policeman Ahmed Waleed said.

The attack occurred on the northern outskirts of Samarra, a town where guerrillas engaged in heavy fighting a week ago with U.S. soldiers delivering new Iraqi currency to local banks.

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