- The Washington Times - Friday, December 3, 2004

BAGHDAD — Terrorists yesterday stormed two police stations and a mosque in Baghdad, killing 30 persons in the deadliest such violence in weeks.

In the northern city of Mosul, 11 militants died in street battles with American and Iraqi forces. Roadside bombs in Baghdad and Kirkuk killed two American soldiers and wounded five others, the military said.

The surge in violence indicates militants can stage attacks at will despite a U.S.-led military campaign to quell the insurgency before Jan. 30 elections.

Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi’s group claimed responsibility for a raid on a Baghdad police station and other attacks.

“The destructive effect that such operations have on the morale of the enemy … is clear,” said the account, which could not be independently verified and was posted on an Islamic Web site.

The visiting NATO commander expressed surprise yesterday that Iraq’s insurgency had proven so resilient by comparison with Afghanistan, where he said security has improved significantly.

“At the beginning I would have projected the opposite, with Iraq coming along faster,” said U.S. Marine Gen. James Jones, the supreme allied commander in Europe.

The attacks in Baghdad began just before 6 a.m. when 11 carloads of gunmen attacked the police station in the western Amil district with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.

Terrorists killed 16 policemen, looted weapons, torched cars and freed about 35 detainees before escaping, police Capt. Mohammed al-Jumeili said.

Later, in the Sunni stronghold of Adamiyah district in Baghdad, a car bomb exploded at a Shi’ite mosque called Hameed al-Najar, killing 14 persons and wounding 19, hospital officials said.

Adamiyah was a center of Sunni support for Saddam Hussein, and the attack on the mosque may have been a bid by Sunnis to stoke sectarian strife there.

American and Iraqi forces also clashed with insurgents in Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, U.S. military spokesman Army Lt. Col. Paul Hastings said. The fighting started when guerrillas fired several mortar rounds at an American base; no casualties were reported.

Maj. Gen. Rashid Feleih, head of the Iraqi commando force, said gunmen attacked three police stations in Mosul. The defenders returned fire, killing 11 attackers and capturing three others. Another Iraqi official said two civilians also died.

Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, saw a major uprising last month that forced the U.S. command and the interim government to divert troops from an offensive in Fallujah.

The latest American deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed since the war started in March 2003 to at least 1,265, according to an Associated Press count.

Two weeks ago, after U.S. Marines regained control of Fallujah, Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, claimed the operation had “broken the back of the insurgency.”

But repeated attacks since then and the killings in Mosul suggest the security situation remains volatile ahead of the Jan. 30 vote for a 275-member assembly that will write a permanent constitution.

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