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Roadside Explosion, Suicide Bombing Kill U.S. Troops, Iraqis

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 2003 – Separate incidents in Iraq today claimed the lives of U.S. soldiers and Iraqis.

Three American soldiers were killed near Samarra by an improvised explosive device, and a number of Iraqis were killed or wounded in a suicide bombing on a government building in Urbil, according to coalition reports from Baghdad.

The Urbil bombing targeted the front of the Ministry of the Interior building, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for Combined Joint Task Force 7, told reporters today during a news briefing.

The suicide bomber, Kimmitt said, drove a bomb-carrying vehicle to the front of the building and then detonated the explosive.

"The explosion blew out all the windows of the building," the general said, "and brought down the protective wall in front of the building."

Numerous people were injured in the attack, Kimmitt stated, noting there've been two confirmed dead, an Iraqi civilian, and the bomber.

And today near Samarra, three U.S. soldiers traveling in convoy south on Highway 1 encountered an improvised explosive device, Kimmitt reported. Two soldiers were immediately killed in the explosion, the general noted, while a wounded third soldier later died.

An individual in a vehicle was observed leaving the attack area, Kimmitt reported, noting that a search is ongoing to find the vehicle and the suspect.

The Urbil and Samarra attacks, Kimmitt said, are being investigated.

Kimmitt noted that in the past 24 hours U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq have conducted more than 2,000 patrols, 19 offensive operations, 31 raids, and captured 54 anti-coalition suspects.

For example, he said, U.S. and coalition forces in northern Iraq recently conducted a series of neighborhood cordon-and-search operations covering more than 500 homes.

Kimmitt also reported that two Iraq police officers in Mosul were shot and killed Dec. 23 in the line of duty. Thanks to a tip provided by an Iraqi citizen, Kimmitt noted, two people suspected of carrying out the attack on the police were rounded up, as well as several weapons and ammunition.

Also, an Iraqi judge was shot and killed yesterday in Mosul, Kimmitt reported, noting that local police are investigating that incident.

Yet, Kimmitt reported, the average number of daily attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq continues on a downward trend since the middle of November.

U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq "remain offensively oriented," Kimmitt declared, and are "poised to adjust to any upward activity on the part of the enemy."

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