- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2004

From combined dispatches

BAGHDAD — A series of explosions across Iraq killed at least 18 persons, including three U.S. soldiers, yesterday as the United States predicted an upturn of violence ahead of a Muslim holiday.

Guerrillas killed nine persons in a car bomb blast in the northern city of Mosul, a separate bomb killed three U.S. soldiers north of Baghdad, and at least six were killed in a pair of explosions in a residential area of the capital.

U.S. military officials have warned of the possibility of more violence against U.S. forces and those seen as cooperating with them ahead of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, because guerrillas often have struck on significant dates.

The deaths of the three soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division in a roadside bombing near the northern oil center of Kirkuk yesterday brought to 522 the number of American service members who have died since the war began March 20.

In Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad, witnesses said what appeared to be a suicide attacker drove through a security barricade in front of the police station before blowing up his vehicle.

Yesterday was a payday, and the station was crowded with staff at the time of the midmorning bombing, said police Lt. Mohammed Fadil. Five of the dead were police, and the others were Iraqi civilians, policeman Khalid Ahmed said. At least 45 Iraqis were injured.

In Baghdad, both explosions occurred in the Baladiyat district, one of them killing at least five civilians, hospital sources told Reuters news agency.

Soldiers and police officers gave conflicting accounts of the first blast, some saying it was mortar fire and others, rockets. A father and son who ran a kiosk nearby were killed, sources at a hospital said.

A U.S. military spokesman, Capt. Dave Malakoff, told the Associated Press that one of the blasts occurred in Baladiyat, a Palestinian neighborhood, but he had no further details. A Palestinian resident, who refused to give his name, told the AP that rocket-propelled grenades were fired at an apartment house, causing “many” injuries.

Also yesterday, a bomb exploded under the car of police Col. Adnan Radeef al-Ani in front of his house in Baghdad, slightly injuring five children in the street. Col. Al-Ani told the AP the bomb apparently was triggered by a timer, but no one was in the vehicle when it exploded.

In the southern city of Basra, a remote-controlled bomb hit a car belonging to a Danish relief organization Danchurchaid, wounding two aid workers and several Iraqis, representatives of the Danish group and military officials said.

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