- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2003

BAGHDAD — Insurgents killed three more U.S. soldiers with roadside bombs late Monday, and former Iraqi intelligence officers demanding jobs hurled stones yesterday and charged American forces guarding coalition headquarters in the capital.

Large sections of Baghdad were in turmoil. There was an explosion inside the Foreign Ministry compound about a half mile from the confrontation outside the U.S.-led coalition headquarters.

Across the city, U.S. soldiers were met with a demonstration by Shi’ite Muslims after closing a mosque and reportedly arresting the imam. Late in the afternoon, U.S. troops fired percussion grenades and shots in the air to disperse the crowd, which grew by the hour.

By nightfall, an estimated 200 American troops backed by helicopters and at least six M1A2 tanks had sealed off the area and more Americans were arriving. Large numbers of protesters were heading to the scene.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, said the trouble in the capital did not reflect a turn for the worse.

“The situation is certainly not getting worse; that is nonsense,” he said in Hillah, 40 miles south of Baghdad, where he was participating in a women’s conference.

“When I arrived in Baghdad in May it was a city on fire. There was no electricity. The schools, hospitals, universities were all closed,” he said.

“All of these things have gotten better, day by day,” Mr. Bremer said. “Of course there will be demonstrations; we should expect that. We have demonstrations in all democracies throughout the world.”

After the former Iraqi intelligence officers hurled pavement stones outside coalition headquarters, American reinforcements began moving forward from the compound toward the protesters, who then scattered. No shots were fired and the Americans pulled back.

Throughout the day, small groups of protesters milled around the entrance but did not threaten the soldiers.

The three soldiers’ deaths, the first reported since Friday, brought to 91 the number of American troops killed in hostile action since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1.

A total of 320 U.S. service members have died in Iraq since the United States and Britain launched military operations against Saddam Hussein’s government March 20.

One soldier attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was killed and another wounded in a bombing about 9:50 p.m. Monday just west of Baghdad.

About an hour later, another roadside bombing killed two soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division and their Iraqi translator. Two other soldiers were wounded in the bombing in al-Haswah, 25 miles south of the capital.

Yesterday afternoon, three 4th Infantry Division soldiers were slightly wounded in a roadside bombing of a U.S. convoy in Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown.

West of Baghdad, the military reported a helicopter made a hard landing at the U.S. air base near Habaniyah, slightly injuring two soldiers.

Also yesterday, U.S. troops conducted a pre-dawn raid in Baqouba, 45 miles north of Baghdad, and captured an officer in the former Iraqi army’s special forces who was helping to organize resistance fighters, the military said.

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