- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 26, 2005

BAGHDAD — A major oil fire raged yesterday after insurgents blew up a pipeline in the north of the country, and the family of an anchorwoman for a U.S.-funded state television station ” a mother of four who was repeatedly shot in the head ” found her body dumped on a street in the northern city of Mosul.

Terrorists, meanwhile, killed two civilians in a roadside bombing west of Baghdad; a suicide car bomber killed an Iraqi national guardsman and injured seven persons southwest of the capital; and the U.S. military announced the death Friday of an American soldier killed in a massive security sweep in the Sunni Triangle.

As part of the offensive, residents in Ramadi, the Sunni-dominated city 70 miles west of Baghdad, reported clashes between insurgents and American forces, but the military provided no details. U.S. troops have been conducting an offensive in the region for nearly a week.

The body of Raiedah Mohammed Wageh Wazan, 35, the news presenter for U.S.-funded Nineveh TV, was found dumped along a Mosul street, six days after she was kidnapped by masked gunmen, according to her husband, who said she had been shot four times in the head.

“This is a criminal act. She was an innocent woman who did not hurt anybody in all her life. I asked her several times to quit for the sake of her safety, but she refused,” said Salim Saad-Allah, her husband.

The mother of three boys and a girl had been threatened with death several times by terrorists who demanded she quit her job, Mr. Saad-Allah said.

Attackers hit the oil pipeline late Friday, setting fire to the line running about 20 miles from fields in Dibis to Kirkuk, which is 150 miles north of Baghdad. As the line continued to blaze yesterday, an official with the state-run North Oil Co. said it would take at least four days to repair the line. Three pipelines were blown up last week.

Political activity moved apace yesterday as Shi’ite political dissenters switched course and rallied behind the prime minister candidacy of conservative Islamic Dawa party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The change of heart apparently was linked to Friday’s endorsement of Mr. al-Jaafari by Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, the country’s most powerful Shi’ite cleric.

The Shi’ite Political Council, which has about 30 seats in the newly elected National Assembly, had threatened to withdraw support from the United Iraqi Alliance after it nominated Mr. al-Jaafari on Tuesday for the powerful post.

Iraqi authorities, meanwhile, continued to voice optimism that they were close to capturing the country’s most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al Qaeda in Iraq mastermind believed to be behind much of the insurgent violence in Iraq.

Zarqawi “is very close to falling into in the hands of justice and there will be good news in the coming days,” Qassim Dawoud, Iraq’s minister of state in charge of national security, said yesterday.

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