- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 25, 2005

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber trailed by five cars loaded with armed terrorists slammed into a wall outside the home of an Iraqi special forces police officer yesterday in the Sunni triangle city of Samarra, killing at least nine persons on the street, officials said.

In another attack in the same region, insurgents rounded up eight police officers at a checkpoint outside the western city of Ramadi, then marched them into their office and fatally shot them, police said yesterday. The attack took place on Friday.

The U.S. military also confirmed the deaths of two more Marines in Thursday’s ambush in Fallujah. That brought the death toll from the suicide car bomb and ensuing small-arms fire to at least four Marines with a Marine and a sailor still missing and presumed dead, the military said.

The lethal ambush on a convoy carrying female U.S. troops in Fallujah underscored the difficulties of keeping women away from the front lines in a war where such boundaries are far from clear-cut. At least one woman was killed, and 11 of the 13 wounded troops were female.

The attacks in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, and yesterday’s suicide bombing in Samarra, 60 miles northwest of the capital, signaled the reappearance of militants capable of carrying out sophisticated attacks.

The suicide bombing in Samarra targeted the home of Lt. Muthana al-Shaker, police said. But the nine persons killed were all on the street and Lt. al-Shaker was not injured.

Two insurgents also died when a roadside bomb they were planting outside Lt. al-Shaker’s house after the attack blew up, police said. That bomb was intended to kill police and emergency services members when they arrived at the scene, they added.

Elsewhere, three mortar rounds struck a crowded cafe in a predominantly Shi’ite neighborhood in western Baghdad last night, killing five civilians and wounding seven more, police said.

The Fallujah ambush suggested Iraqi insurgents may have regained a foothold in Fallujah, which has been occupied by U.S. and Iraqi forces since they regained control of the city seven months ago.

The women were part of a team of Marines assigned to various checkpoints around Fallujah. The Marines use females at the checkpoints to search Muslim women “in order to be respectful of Iraqi cultural sensitivities,” a military statement said.

The military also was quick to point out in an announcement that its assignment “to this mission is in full accordance with Department of Defense and Marine Corps policy.”

The group al Qaeda in Iraq claimed it carried out the ambush, one of the single deadliest attacks against the Marines — and against women — in this country.

Thirty-six female troops have died since the war began, most of them from hostile fire. More than 11,000 women are serving in Iraq, part of 138,000 U.S. troops in the country, said Staff Sgt. Don Dees, a U.S. military spokesman.

In his radio address yesterday, President Bush urged Americans to share in Iraqis’ confidence.

“The Iraqi people are growing in optimism and hope,” Mr. Bush said. “They understand that the violence is only a part of the reality in Iraq.”

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