Iraqi gunmen target civilian collaborators

U.S. might move troops from South Korea to Iraq

Crisis In Iraq

May 17, 2004|By Patrick J. McDonnell | Patrick J. McDonnell,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq - In new attacks targeting civilians deemed collaborators with the U.S. occupation, gunmen destroyed a minibus ferrying employees from a U.S. base here, killing three people, and assailants killed a woman after breaking into her house.

Two more U.S. soldiers were killed, one in a firefight south of Baghdad and another when a roadside bomb hit a military vehicle, officials said yesterday. More than 780 troops have died since the war began.

In the first of the attacks on civilians, two women and their driver were killed as they rode from a U.S. base to their home in Baghdad's Doura district late Saturday, police said. An assailant drove alongside and opened fire, forcing their minibus to the side of the road. An attacker then tossed an explosive into the vehicle, blowing it apart. One woman was in serious condition, officials said.

It was not immediately clear what the women's jobs were at the U.S. base. More than a half-dozen attacks in Iraq have targeted translators and women working as cleaning and maintenance staff at U.S. facilities. Many Iraqis working for U.S. interests have been warned to quit or face death.

In a second incident, an Iraqi woman working as a translator for U.S. forces was killed and another person injured yesterday when assailants broke into their houses in Mahmoudiya.

It is at least the fifth occasion in which officials or others viewed as cooperating with U.S. forces have been slain in the vicinity of Mahmoudiya, home of many members of dictator Saddam Hussein's security and intelligence services. Victims include two former police chiefs, a well-known contractor who did jobs for the U.S. military and a woman believed to be informing on insurgents in the area, officials said.

Meanwhile, skirmishes continued across southern Iraq, where militiamen loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite Muslim cleric, have rebelled against the U.S.-led coalition occupying Iraq.

U.S. tanks rumbled down the streets of Karbala, exchanging fire with Shiite militiamen who attacked with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. There was no definitive word on casualties.

In the southern city of Nasiriyah, militiamen fought Italian troops at two bridges across the Euphrates for a third straight day. Two militiamen were killed and 20 people injured.

Six Italian soldiers were slightly wounded in Nasiriyah, said Maj. Antonio Sottile, spokesman for Italian troops in Iraq.

Italy's ANSA news agency said a convoy transporting the Italian official in charge of Nasiriyah, Barbara Contini, came under attack as it neared the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Contini was not injured, though two paramilitary police were hurt.

In Seoul, South Korea, a Foreign Ministry official said today that the United States wants to move some of its 37,000 troops stationed in South Korea to Iraq. He said details, including the number that might be redeployed, are being worked out.

"The U.S. government has told us that it needs to select some U.S. troops in South Korea and send them to Iraq to cope with the worsening situation," said Kim Sook of the ministry's North American Bureau.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Killed in Iraq

As of Friday, 775 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations. Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 637 U.S. soldiers have died.

Latest identifications

Marine Pfc. Brandon Sturdy, 19, Urbandale, Iowa; killed Thursday by an explosive northwest of Fallujah, Iraq; assigned to Weapons Platoon, Fox Company, Second Battalion, First Marine Regiment.

Sgt. Maj. Edward C. Barnhill, 50, Shreveport, La.; died May 14 in Baghdad of non-combat related injuries; assigned to the Army Reserve's 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, North Little Rock, Ark.

Associated Press

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