- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2003

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Iraq’s hit-and-run resistance struck U.S. forces in this tense city west of Baghdad for a second day yesterday, killing one American paratrooper and wounding six others, the U.S. command reported. Two civilians were killed in the clash.

Fallujah is among the most dangerous cities for American troops in the “Sunni Triangle” north and west of Baghdad, where resistance to U.S. occupation is most intense.

Efforts to reinforce embattled American troops in Iraq suffered new setbacks yesterday, with Bangladesh ruling out sending soldiers and Iraqi tribal leaders renewing demands that Turkish troops stay home.

In the midday raid, insurgents attacked a dismounted patrol from the 82nd Airborne Division, first with a homemade bomb and then with small-arms fire, the U.S. command said. The patrol comprised about 30 soldiers and five Humvee vehicles.

Reporters and Iraqi witnesses said the paratroopers raked the area with return fire, then raided a mosque and houses looking for the attackers. They detained at least nine Iraqis, including a woman, residents said.

The clash came a day after rocket-propelled grenades destroyed a U.S. Army ammunition truck that had broken down on the highway east of Fallujah. One civilian was killed and four were wounded in the explosions or in the U.S. gunfire that followed.

No U.S. casualties were reported in Sunday’s attack, which set off celebrations among Iraqi youths.

The bodies of the two civilians killed in yesterday’s attack — an Iraqi and a Syrian truck driver — were taken to Fallujah General Hospital. The Associated Press saw that the Iraqi, Nazem Baji, had a gunshot wound in the back of his head and his hands were tied in front of him with plastic bands similar to those used by the U.S. military when they arrest suspects.

“[Americans] raided the house, shot him first in the leg, tied his hands and then shot him in the head,” said the victim’s brother, Dira’a Baji.

The U.S. military press office in Baghdad said it had no information on the accusation, and it referred AP to the 82nd Airborne press office. An e-mail request for comment was forwarded but no reply was received.

At Fort Bragg, N.C., military spokesmen said the dead paratrooper was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Police Lt. Mahmoud al-Falahi said the truck driver was killed in the crossfire. His trailer was lying on its side on a bridge, and the cab’s windshield was riddled with bullet holes.

“A roadside bomb detonated on the main street, then there was an attack on the American patrol,” Lt. al-Falahi said. “The Americans started combing the area with gunfire, killing a truck driver.”

Another Syrian driver, Ibrahim Jassem, said the victim was part of a convoy hauling cement from Lebanon to Baghdad when he was caught in the attack.

The latest U.S. deaths brought to 104 the number of Americans killed by hostile fire since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. A total of 339 Americans have died since the March 20 invasion of Iraq, 218 of them in combat.

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