- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

BAGHDAD — A suicide car bomber slammed into a U.S. convoy in Fallujah, killing two Marines, including one woman, a Pentagon spokesman said yesterday. Four other troops were listed as missing after the attack and were presumed dead.

The Thursday night attack also wounded 13 Marines, spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Eleven of the 13 wounded were women, the military said.

Thirty-six female troops have died since the Iraq war began, including the one confirmed killed Thursday, said Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman. Thirty-four were Army, one Navy and one Marine.

The convoy was returning to the Marine base, Camp Fallujah, when the ambush took place, the Marines said in a statement.

It said two Marines died “when their convoy came under attack Thursday night in Fallujah. One Marine was killed when the vehicle she was in was attacked by a suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device. The other Marine, a male, was killed by small arms fire immediately after the car bomb attack.”

In addition to the two dead, “three Marines and a sailor believed to be in the vehicle are currently listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown pending a positive identification,” a statement from the Marines said.

At the Pentagon, a U.S. military official said the four missing were presumed dead.

At least 1,730 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

News of the latest deaths came as President Bush met Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari at the White House, and both pledged eventual victory over insurgents.

The car bomber targeted troops assigned to the II Marine Expeditionary Force, an earlier military statement said. Fallujah, the Anbar province city 40 miles west of Baghdad, was the scene of a large-scale campaign in November by U.S. troops to rout militants.

The terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq, headed by Abu Musab Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying six “crusaders” were killed and two Humvees were destroyed. The claim was posted on an Internet site, but its authenticity could not be verified.

U.S. forces in Fallujah arrested Associated Press Television News cameraman Amer Ali who went to the scene at midday yesterday, and his video showed black scorch marks along a road and scattered chunks of metal. Video he shot Thursday showed thick plumes of black smoke rising from the blast.

Since the Fallujah offensive in November, the Marines have been involved in numerous operations to root out insurgents in western Anbar, including a recent campaign near the Syrian border that killed 47 insurgents.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi reporter working for an American news organization was fatally shot yesterday in Baghdad by U.S. troops after he apparently did not respond to a shouted signal from a military convoy, witnesses said. The military had no comment.

On Thursday, the top American commander in the Persian Gulf told Congress the Iraqi insurgency has not grown weaker in the past six months. “I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago,” Gen. John Abizaid said.

In other violence in Iraq, three separate roadside bombs exploded yesterday near U.S. military convoys and a police patrol, officials said.

A roadside bomb wounded three Iraqi policemen in Kirkuk, police Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin said. The oil-rich city is 80 miles north of Baghdad.

Another bomb went off as a U.S. military convoy was passing on Canal highway near Baghdad’s Sadr City, police Lt. Col. Kadhim Hamza Abbas said. U.S. forces sealed off the road, Abbas said. No casualties were reported.

In other violence, a mortar attack on a Mosul police academy missed its target yesterday and struck nearby homes, killing one Iraqi woman, police Capt. Ziyad Ahmed and Dr. Asaad Khalid said. Mosul is 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

The insurgency has killed more than 1,240 people since April 28, when Mr. al-Jaafari announced his Shi’ite-dominated government.

There have been 480 car bombs in Iraq since the handover of sovereignty on June 28, 2004, according to an Associated Press count. At least 2,174 persons have been killed and 5,520 have been wounded.

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