- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

From combined dispatches

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near the restive central city of Ramadi, killing 11 Iraqi police commandos and injuring 14 other persons including two U.S. soldiers, the U.S. military said yesterday.

The blast at a checkpoint on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi Thursday evening also wounded nine Iraqi security-force members and three civilians, bringing the total number of victims to 25, U.S. Marine Capt. Jeffrey Pool told the Associated Press.

The attacker also died in the explosion near the Sunni Triangle city, 70 miles west of Baghdad.

In an eastern Baghdad neighborhood, unidentified attackers killed five female translators working for the U.S. military, police Capt. Ahmed Aboud said.

The translators “were heading home when gunmen driving two cars sprayed them with machine-gun fire,” Capt. Aboud said yesterday. Further details of the Thursday-night attack were not immediately available.

Insurgents and terrorists routinely target U.S. forces and their perceived collaborators as well as members of Iraq’s government, army and police — security forces which the U.S. military says must gain better control of the country before any major U.S. troop withdrawal.

In southern Iraq, U.S. military police said yesterday they had thwarted a massive escape attempt by suspected insurgents and terrorists from Camp Bucca, which houses more than 6,000 detainees, when they uncovered a 600-foot tunnel the detainees had dug under their compound, a newspaper reported yesterday.

“We were very close to a very bad thing,” Maj. Gen. William Brandenburg said after troops under his command discovered the tunnel that prisoners had painstakingly dug with the help of makeshift tools, the Hill, a Washington-based newspaper, reported.

Within hours of the discovery on the first tunnel, a second tunnel of about 300 feet was detected under an adjoining compound in the camp, which holds 6,049 detainees, said the newspaper, which specializes in coverage of the U.S. Congress

Gen. Brandenburg told the newspaper that the prisoners, who include Iraqis and suspected terrorists from other Arab countries, probably were waiting for the dense fog that often rolls in at night from the nearby Persian Gulf before attempting their escape.

“We get fog after midnight in which you can’t see 100 feet,” he said. “I think they were waiting on poor visibility and I think there was a good chance they would have gotten out of the camp.”

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