Insurgents pressed their attack on U.S. troops and Iraq's security forces yesterday, killing five Iraqi police officers, including a general, and wounding 14 U.S. soldiers in a relentless...
BAGHDAD, Iraq Insurgents pressed their attack on U.S. troops and Iraq’s security forces yesterday, killing five Iraqi police officers, including a general, and wounding 14 U.S. soldiers in a relentless effort to derail next month’s elections. But officials say the vote preparations are on schedule.
The Americans were wounded in separate attacks in northern Iraq. One car bombing and ambush wounded eight soldiers, prompting a U.S. warplane to drop a 500-pound bomb on an insurgent position in Mosul.
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“The commanders on the ground felt the attack was heavy enough to call in close air support,” military spokeswoman Capt. Angela Bowman said.
Violence continues to grip the Sunni-dominated areas in central Iraq despite last month’s U.S.-led assault on the main insurgent stronghold of Fallujah and on an area south of Baghdad. That attack was launched to try to curb the insurgency so parliamentary elections could be held nationwide Jan. 30.
The latest attacks appear to be part of a sweeping intimidation campaign aimed at foiling those elections, in part by killing Iraqis who cooperate with the United States, making them collaborators in the eyes of insurgents.
Police Col. Najeeb al-Joubouri was gunned down on his way to work on a road outside Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad.
Two more police commanders were shot and killed in Baghdad’s southwestern Saidiyah neighborhood in an early-morning ambush. A senior Interior Ministry official identified the victims as Brig. Gen. Razzaq Karim Mahmood and Col. Karim Farhan.
Gunmen ambushed a police patrol in Baghdad’s northern suburb of Azamiyah late Friday, killing a captain and a constable and wounding two others, police Lt. Mohammed al-Obeidi said.
The guerrillas regard the elections as an effort to legitimize a puppet government that will serve U.S. interests.
Iraq’s government says the vote will go ahead as scheduled, and preparations continued yesterday, with election officials saying candidates from 70 political parties and coalitions have filed so far. The filing deadline is Dec. 15.
In other violence, gunmen shot and killed a Shiite cleric, Salim al-Yaqoubi, near his home in Baghdad, police said.
A second Shiite cleric, Sheik Ammar al-Joubouri, was slain Friday near Mahmoudiya, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, while driving to the capital. Al-Joubouri once headed a religious court of followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the southern holy city of Najaf.
In northern Iraq, a suspected suicide car bomber wounded two U.S. soldiers in Beiji, while two more were wounded by a car bomb near Kirkuk, about 60 miles to the north.
Two more U.S. soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb outside Hawija, near Kirkuk.