- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 17, 2003

BAGHDAD — An American soldier shot in the back by a sniper died yesterday, becoming the latest victim of Iraqi resistance as U.S. forces continue to hunt down loyalists of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Shortly before the shooting, two explosions rocked populated areas in central Baghdad, both apparently aimed at U.S. troops.

Scores of heavily armed U.S. troops swept through central Baghdad, sealing off roads and searching houses on the third day of Operation Desert Scorpion.

The campaign is intended to rout out anti-American insurgents and seize now-banned heavy weapons in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Saddam’s hometown, Tikrit.

The soldier who was shot, whose name was withheld pending notification of relatives, was sitting in his Humvee in northwest Baghdad when he was struck by a small-caliber bullet shortly before midnight, according to a statement issued yesterday by the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad.

He was participating in a weapons raid on a cafe and religious school.

Eleven American soldiers have been killed and dozens wounded by hostile enemy fire since May 26.

U.S. military officials said they believed that the sniper was acting alone and was not part of an organized resistance to coalition forces here.

U.S. troops had detained 412 persons and confiscated scores of weapons in a series of raids that many Iraqis said were invasive and unnecessarily abusive.

Resistance to U.S. troops is growing daily here, as Baghdad residents cope with 115-degree heat without reliable electricity, water or other utilities.

Tempers are soaring with the temperature as checkpoints choke down already congested roadways and tank convoys tear up streets.

“Americans are doing nothing for the Iraqi people,” said Haider Jasim, 23, a student of Iraqi history at the Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.

“During the reign of Saddam Hussein, things were better, everything worked. We had water and power.”

Several young men and women said yesterday that they were unnerved by the increasingly unstable security situation, which has forced many parents and older siblings to escort students to school.

The two blasts appeared to be aimed at U.S. troops, with a grenade or other explosive going off in a central Baghdad tunnel frequented by military convoys.

Two Iraqi civilians reportedly were killed when their car was blown apart by an explosion in western Baghdad, near the site of a U.S. military checkpoint.

Faced with widespread crime and a wave of attacks, the U.S.-led administration in Iraq said it issued an order outlawing the incitement of violence against occupying forces and Iraqi citizens, and said it would set up a new criminal court.

At least 41 soldiers have been killed either by hostile action or in accidents since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat operations over in Iraq. The U.S. military blames the attacks on guerrillas loyal to Saddam.

“A 1st Armored Division soldier died of a gunshot wound early this morning,” an Army statement said. “The soldier, who was taking part in a patrol, was sitting in a military vehicle when he was struck in the back by a small-caliber bullet.”

L. Paul Bremer, head of the interim administration trying to impose order in Iraq, told a news conference it was now illegal for Iraqis to incite violence. He said the move was not a violation of the Iraqi people’s freedom.

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