Pentagon Announces Death of 17 US Troops in Iraq; 5 Killed Sunday
Nicholas Riccardi of the LA Times (reg. req.) reports that Iraqi guerrillas killed 5 US troops on Sunday, including three in a firefight west of Baghdad and two in a helicopter that they managed to shoot down. The US military also reported 12 other troops dead in engagements on Friday and Saturday, including a major battle in Baqubah with, presumably, ex-Baathist forces (which has been little noted in the Western press). Since April 4 alone, when the US launched its assaults on Fallujah and on the Army of the Mahdi, guerrillas have killed about 60 US troops.
Other news: Spanish troops near Diwaniyah came under fire early Monday, but took no casualties.
Clashes broke out in the northern city of Kirkuk between guerrillas and US forces, leaving 4 Iraqis dead.
In Nasiriyah, Italian troops used explosive charges to level the office building of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi had visited the day before.
BAGHDAD, April 12 (Xinhuanet) — Three loud explosions rocked Monday a large compound in central Baghdad of the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. Smoke was seen rising from the heavily fortified “Green Zone.” The cause of the explosions was not known immediately. Sirens could be heard shortly after the blasts.
Chinese interest in Iraq increased dramatically when insurgents there took 7 Chinese citizens prisoner on Sunday, adding to a rash of hostage-taking. The hostage-taking has caused development work in Iraq to grind to a standstill, a big blow to US hopes that development would pour money into the country and pacify it.