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Suicide Bomber May Have Been Responsible for Mosul Attack

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2004 – It appears that a suicide bomber was responsible for the attack on the mess hall at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul that killed 22 people Dec. 21, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during a Pentagon news briefing today.

Of the 22 dead, 13 were U.S. servicemembers, five were U.S. civilian contractors, three were Iraqi security force members and one a "non-U.S. person," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said. Myers briefed the press with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

A total of 69 others were wounded: 44 U.S. servicemembers, seven U.S. contractors, five Defense Department civilians, two Iraqi civilians, 10 contractors of other nationalities and one of unknown nationality and occupation. "Twenty-five of the 69 who were wounded were returned to duty," Myers said. Others are being transported to Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany.

The chairman said investigators in Mosul said that at this point it "looks like it was an improvised explosive device worn by an attacker."

Rumsfeld said the Mosul attack again demonstrates that the coalition and the Iraqi people face a vicious and determined enemy. "Freedom is at stake in Iraq, and it's achievable," the secretary said. "The only alternative to success is to turn back to darkness, to those who kill and terrorize innocent men, women and children. That must not happen."

Myers said that coalition commanders will take appropriate steps to prevent another attack. He also said that the citizens of Fallujah can begin returning to their battered city Dec. 23. Coalition troops have worked to return basic services in the city and to rid it of arms caches and unexploded ordnance.

"Engineers and Iraqis are working to restore power to sub-stations and repair water mains," he said. "Obviously, security is still a concern; in fact, yesterday U.S. forces uncovered several more weapons caches. These efforts to secure Fallujah are deliberate and they do take time, but we are making progress."

The chairman said that the election process is on track. "The elections will be planned, conducted and secured by Iraqis," Myers said. "We are absolutely committed to the Jan. 30 election date. Seventeen of the 18 provinces can support elections now at more than 5,500 designated polling centers. The number of polling centers in the one remaining province, Al Anbar, is not yet known."

The process is difficult. Security -- especially in Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul -- is a concern. Myers said that Iraqi forces -- now numbering about 120,000 trained and equipped -- will take the lead for election security. "Coalition forces will provide support where requested," he said.

The coalition is going after insurgents who are targeting innocent citizens and coalition forces. Both Myers and Rumsfeld said they expect the insurgents to increase attacks as the election nears.

"Intimidation, kidnappings and executions, especially those focused in Mosul, north Babil, Ramadi and al Qaim are particularly troubling, and these areas will be a focus of particularly increased security emphasis," Myers said.

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Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
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