- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

BAGHDAD — Gunmen seized 10 workers from a bakery yesterday in a predominantly Shi’ite neighborhood in Baghdad, while a car bomb exploded near a university in the northern city of Mosul, killing a woman and wounding 19 other persons, police said.

A small parked truck bomb exploded in southwestern Baghdad, killing three persons inside the vehicle, police said. In Baqouba, north of Baghdad, gunmen killed three persons, including one carrying an Iranian passport, police said.

The scattered attacks came after a day of unrelenting violence that killed more than two dozen people as insurgents foiled heightened security measures, dealing a blow to the Iraqi government’s pledge to bring peace to the capital.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, combed through the Triangle of Death, a predominantly Sunni Arab region south of the capital for a second day looking for two soldiers missing since an attack Friday on a traffic checkpoint that also killed one of their comrades.

Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops also set up outposts yesterday west of Baghdad as part of an operation to establish Iraqi army bases in the volatile Sunni Arab city of Ramadi.

U.S. commanders stressed that the operation was not a large-scale assault on the city, despite press reports of an impending attack on the city similar to the 2004 operation to root out insurgents in Fallujah.

They said it was an “isolation” tactic to prevent insurgents from receiving supplies or reinforcements from outside.

Two long columns of U.S. and Iraqi armored vehicles met little resistance late Saturday as they encircled the southern side of Ramadi, the capital of volatile Anbar province, although a handful of roadside bombs were discovered and detonated.

In Baghdad, gunmen arrived in two cars, broke into the bakery and abducted the 10 workers in the northern suburb of Kazimiyah, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said. It was the same neighborhood where a mortar shell struck a well-known market Saturday, killing four persons and wounding 13.

A mortar shell yesterday hit the al-Sadiq University for Islamic Studies on Palestine Street, one of the capital’s main thoroughfares, wounding five students and a teacher, police Lt. Ahmed Qasim said.

The Mosul car bomb apparently was directed at a U.S. convoy. It exploded near Mosul University, and most of the 19 wounded were female students, police Brig. Abdel-Hamid Khala said.

Police also found in several areas of Baghdad the bullet-riddled bodies of 10 men who showed signs of torture, and the body of a man who was shot in the head was found in Karbala, 50 miles south of the capital.

Witnesses who said they saw Friday’s attack against the U.S. troops in a volatile area south of Baghdad said that the soldiers were led away by masked gunmen.

Ahmed Khalaf Falah, a farmer, said three Humvees were manning a checkpoint when they came under fire from many directions. Two of the vehicles went after the assailants, but the third was ambushed before it could move, he said.

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