- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The deaths of six more American soldiers in roadside bombings underscored concerns about security in this volatile nation.

A bomb that exploded south of Baghdad killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded three others last night, hours after another bombing west of the capital killed three U.S. paratroopers and wounded one, the military said.

In addition, two employees of CNN died in a shooting south of Baghdad.

Elsewhere, U.S. troops killed three suspected members of a guerrilla cell during raids yesterday in the central Iraqi town of Beiji, the Army said. And a suspected car bomb was discovered near coalition and Iraqi Governing Council offices.

The attacks came as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced in Paris the deployment of technical experts to assess the feasibility of holding general elections for a provisional legislature by the end of June.

The United States has cited the ongoing violence in arguing against demands by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani for the direct election.

The latest U.S. deaths occurred in a roadside bombing about 8 p.m. yesterday near Iskandariyah, about 25 miles south of Baghdad, a military statement said.

Earlier in Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near an 82nd Airborne Division convoy. Three paratroopers were killed, and one was critically wounded, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmit, deputy chief of operations, told reporters in Baghdad.

He said a rescue force that rushed to the scene came under small arms fire, but suffered no casualties.

Iraqi hospital staff said two Iraqi civilians also were killed in the ambush — including one shot in the stomach as he stood in his office nearby, hospital staff said.

Yesterday’s killings brought to 519 the number of U.S. troops who have died since the Iraq war began. Most occurred after President Bush declared an end to active combat on May 1.

In Baghdad’s southern outskirts, a driver and a translator-producer working for CNN were fatally shot by unidentified assailants, the network said. They were returning from an assignment in a two-car convoy, CNN said.

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