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Insurgent Attacks Increase as Iraqi Elections Near

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2005 – As Defense Department officials predicted, insurgents in Iraq have stepped up their attacks as important Iraqi elections approach, senior DoD officials told reporters here Oct. 6.

"The overall level of (insurgent) attacks over the past several months in Iraq has increased," Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, deputy operations chief on the Joint Staff, said at a Pentagon news briefing.

That news "shouldn't be too terribly surprising," the general pointed out. "As we've looked towards the political events that are about to occur, we expected that there would be some increase" in attacks.

Iraqis are getting ready to vote on a new constitution at an Oct. 15 referendum, and a new Iraqi government will be chosen during national elections slated for Dec. 15. Insurgents, including some disgruntled Sunni Arabs and al Qaeda operatives, have vowed to disrupt Iraq's march toward a free and democratic government.

Instances of insurgent-deployed car bomb attacks in Iraq had been decreasing every month since April or May, Ham noted. But, in September, he said, the numbers of those types of attacks "started to come back up again."

And, "compared with the same time frame of last year," Ham pointed out, the number of IED attacks was higher during September 2005 than September 2004.

"While that's not good news, it's at least partially understandable as to why that is the case," the general said.

Insurgent-detonated improvised explosive devices, whether they are stationary mines or mobile car bombs, are causing "the preponderance" of injuries and deaths experienced by U.S. military and other coalition force members, Ham said.

However, "one thing that's been clear over the past year," said Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita, who accompanied Ham at the press briefing, "is that the terrorists have shifted their focus to killing innocent Iraqis."

DoD has employed overlapping troop rotations to temporarily beef up the number of U.S. military forces in Iraq to about 152,000 service members to provide added security for the constitutional referendum and the December elections, Ham said.

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