- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 8, 2003

From combined dispatches

BAGHDAD — A blistering series of attacks, coming nearly hourly, wounded seven U.S. soldiers in Iraq yesterday, and the United States offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who had killed a coalition soldier or Iraqi policeman.

The reward is aimed at stemming an insurgency that has plagued efforts to restore security and basic services. Last week, the U.S.-led provisional authority put a $25 million bounty on the head of Saddam Hussein, and offered a $15 million reward for the capture of either of the ousted dictator’s two sons.

“I urge the Iraqi people to come forward to take these people off the streets of the country,” former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said in announcing the $2,500 reward.

Mr. Kerik, director of security in Iraq, also said U.S. forces and Iraqi police had arrested Sabah Mirza, who was a bodyguard for Saddam in the 1980s before being fired. A raid on Mr. Mirza’s farm after his June 26 arrest netted plastic explosives, mortars, a machine gun and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

U.S. soldiers raided a building in central Baghdad yesterday, following up on a claim by residents who said they thought they saw Saddam driving through the area Monday to cheers and celebratory gunfire.

During the sweep, several residents chanted pro-Saddam slogans and others sang: “With our souls and our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you, Saddam.”

The last reported sighting of Saddam was April 9 in the Azamiyah neighborhood of northeastern Baghdad as the capital fell to the U.S.-led coalition.

L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq, said the coalition would not rest until Saddam’s fate was determined.

“He may be alive, but he is not coming back,” Mr. Bremer said. “I think the noose is going to tighten around his neck. His days in Iraq are finished.”

Yesterday brought fresh attacks in what had become a bloody and uncertain peace for coalition forces.

Insurgents dropped a homemade bomb from a bridge onto a passing U.S. military convoy in Baghdad, wounding two soldiers. Two more soldiers were injured when their vehicle struck a land mine in the capital, said Sgt. Patrick Compton, a military spokesman.

In Kirkuk, 175 miles north of the capital, assailants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a military convoy, wounding three servicemen. The patrol returned fire, but there was no word of Iraqi casualties or arrests.

Witnesses said three Iraqis — including a 13-year-old boy — were killed after a grenade attack on a police station in a Baghdad suburb. Witnesses told Associated Press Television News the soldiers returned fire, but that those who died had not attacked the police station.

Late Monday, insurgents fired mortars at a base near Balad, 55 miles north of the capital, the military said. U.S. forces subsequently caught 12 of the suspected attackers.

Since President Bush’s declared end to major combat in Iraq on May 1, 29 U.S. servicemen have been killed by hostile fire and 44 others have died in accidents and other nonhostile circumstances, a total of 73.

In the approximately three weeks of fighting before Baghdad fell to U.S. troops on April 9, 102 Americans died, including 87 killed by hostile fire.

Also yesterday, the U.S.-appointed governor of the Shi’ite Muslim city of Karbala resigned after charges of financial improprieties, the U.S. military spokesman said. Ali Kammouna, 31, had been the governor of Karbala since May.

The governor of Najaf, another Shi’ite holy city, was arrested and removed from his post earlier after he was charged with corruption and kidnapping.

Two Arabic television stations — Qatar’s Al Jazeera and Lebanon’s LBC-al-Hayat — yesterday aired an audiotape purportedly of Saddam that they claimed to be new. But journalists familiar with the tape said it sounded remarkably similar to an audiotaped message that surfaced in May.

The voice in the undated and poor-quality recording also urged Iraqis to combat the U.S. and British presence through trade boycotts and civil disorder.

The tape was the second such recording in a week purportedly made by Saddam. On Friday, Al Jazeera aired an audiotape it said was from Saddam.

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