- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

From combined dispatches

BAGHDAD — Gunmen killed an Iraqi journalist working for a U.S.-funded television network in Basra and assassinated a senior government official in Baghdad yesterday in the latest attacks since the Jan. 30 elections.

The election commission, meanwhile, delayed announcement of the final results, which had been expected today.

An American soldier was killed yesterday and another wounded in an ambush north of the capital, the U.S. military said. Two other American soldiers died earlier in the week, the military said yesterday.

Police in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, said Al Hurra correspondent Abdul-Hussein Khazal al-Basri had been fatally shot at his home in the mainly Shi’ite city. Al Hurra is a Springfield, Va.-based satellite news network set up with U.S. funding to compete with Arabic channels like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

Al Hurra said one of Mr. al-Basri’s sons also had been killed. He was 3 years old. Mr. al-Basri was also an official of the Islamic Dawa party, editor of a newspaper in Basra and head of the press office of the Basra City Council.

Police in Baghdad said a director in the Ministry of Culture and Housing was killed last night when gunmen attacked his car. Earlier, terrorists kidnapped a senior Interior Ministry official, Col. Riyadh Katei Aliwi.

In Baghdad’s Haifa Street area, an insurgent stronghold, three members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party were killed in an ambush, and terrorists skirmished with U.S. and Iraqi forces.

North of the capital, a U.S. soldier was killed in an attack near the town of Balad, the military said.

Millions of Iraqis braved suicide bombs and mortar attacks to vote in last month’s elections, defying threats by insurgents who had vowed to wreck the balloting. But in recent days, guerrillas trying to overthrow the U.S.-backed government have struck back.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of men waiting to be recruited into Iraq’s security forces at a disused airfield in Baghdad, killing at least 21 persons.

The previous day, suicide attacks against police in Mosul and Baqouba, north of the capital, killed 27 persons.

All three attacks were claimed by al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told sailors on a destroyer off the French coast that the Iraq fight was not over.

“I wish I could assure you that everything was going to turn out well. But I can’t. I suspect that there are going to be more people killed, that there’ll be more difficulties, that it will be a bumpy road, a tough road,” he said aboard the USS O’Bannon.

Iraq’s Independent Electoral Commission said the announcement of a final vote tally, previously expected by today, would be delayed while about 300 ballot boxes were re-examined. Gunmen in Mosul tampered with several ballot boxes on election day, prompting the commission to recheck other boxes at random.

Partial results show that an alliance of mainly Shi’ite Islamic parties is well in the lead, as expected. A coalition of Kurdish parties is in second place and a bloc led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is third.

The Shi’ite alliance, formed with the blessing of Iraq’s most revered Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, says it will demand the prime ministership in Iraq’s next government. The Kurds want their candidate, Jalal Talabani, to be president.

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