- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 4, 2003


BAGHDAD — Insurgents yesterday attacked a police station in western Iraq, and a mine blew up a U.S. military vehicle in Baghdad but caused no injuries.

The incidents occurred as U.S. troops pursued the former head of the “death squads” of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services.

Three civilians and two officers were wounded in the attack on the police station in the western town of Ramadi. The attackers had fired small arms and rocket-propelled grenades from a black BMW.

U.S. commanders say they hope to bring the town under control by the end of the year amid an improvement in security there.

One police major was wounded in the leg and one policeman was hurt seriously and taken to Baghdad, said Deputy Police Chief Lt. Samir Habib Jalil.

The U.S. divisional commander for western Iraq, Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, said last month that he still planned to hand over day-to-day patrols of Ramadi, a mainly Sunni Muslim town, to Iraqi police by the end of the year, despite a rash of deadly attacks during the holy month of Ramadan.

In the capital, smoke was seen pouring out of a field-artillery ammunition-support vehicle after it hit a land mine at a major intersection.

“The vehicle did catch fire, but there were no injuries,” a U.S. spokesman said.

In Mosul, police said U.S. troops were hunting down former secret service policeman Fawzi Qahtan, who was also Saddam’s personal weapons trainer.

“Since six this morning, the American forces have been searching homes looking for a senior intelligence officer who was the head of the death squads at Mukhabarat headquarters in Baghdad,” police Lt. Abdullah Mohammed Kazem said.

During the search, U.S. forces arrested four persons for possession of more than the one weapon allowed by coalition authorities.

The U.S.-led coalition, meanwhile, acknowledged recruiting former militiamen in its efforts against the insurgency, even as it arrested Moqtada Sadr, the radical Shi’ite Muslim cleric who runs the anti-U.S. Mehdi Army militia.

The coalition’s deputy director of operations, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, had blamed the militia in the Oct. 9 killing of two U.S. soldiers in the Shi’ite suburb of Sadr City.

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