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Iraqi Security Forces Take Casualties as Role Increases

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2005 – Iraqi security forces continue to assume a larger role in their country's defense as Iraq prepares for elections later this month, Multinational Force Iraq officials in Baghdad reported today.

Five Iraqi police officers were killed today when a vehicle-borne bomb exploded in Baqubah. The attack wounded eight others, including Iraqi police, Iraqi National Guard soldiers and civilians.

Two Iraqi police officers and three Iraqi National Guard soldiers were taken to a Multinational Force medical facility for treatment, and three civilians were treated at the scene.

Officials said the driver of the vehicle used in the attack also was killed in the blast. Iraqi police are investigating the incident.

On Jan. 4, an Iraqi police officer was wounded when mortar fire hit his home near Baqubah, officials said. He was taken to a Multinational Force medical facility.

Iraqi National Guard soldiers repelled insurgents attempting to attack a school in Rutbah Jan. 3. When they saw an insurgent emplacing an improvised explosive device, they engaged him with small-arms fire, causing the insurgent to prematurely detonate the IED that instantly killed him. Other insurgents in a white pickup truck approached and engaged the Iraqi National Guard troops with small-arms fire after the device blew up, and the Iraqi National Guard troops repelled their attack.

Officials said the capabilities of the Iraqi National Guard are growing steadily as they continue to operate independently to provide peace and stability to the citizens of Iraq.

To help them better carry out this mission, the commander of Task Force Danger presented the 4th Iraqi National Guard Division with vehicles and other equipment Jan. 2.

Army Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, 1st Infantry Division and Task Force Danger commander, handed the keys to 14 vehicles to Iraqi Lt. Gen. Moufi Aziz at Forward Operating Base Danger. The 4th Iraqi National Guard also received 200 uniforms, cold-weather jackets and protective vests with plates, 20 radios, five rifles and five machine guns, officials said.

The vehicles, clothing, weapons and other equipment will be used mainly by the 4th Iraqi National Guard's headquarters detachment and scout company.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

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