Muqtada Militia Attacks U.S. Soldiers, More Weapons Found
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 3, 2004 --Task Force 1st Armored Division soldiers were attacked today during a search of a school near Kufa, suspected site of several recent mortar attacks, according to a Central Commands news release.
While approaching the school, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, were fired upon with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, the release stated. Soldiers returned fire, killing a 'significant number' of attackers. Three soldiers were wounded, the news release said.
A search of the school yielded two 82 mm mortar tubes, a 120 mm mortar tube, two RPG launchers with RPGs, a light anti-tank weapon, several AK-47 assault rifles, 10 hand grenades, 40 60 mm mortar rounds, and 20 120 mm mortar rounds.
The latest weapons find was one of several this week by U.S. soldiers.
Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division discovered two weapons caches in Tikrit June 1, adding to six caches found over the Memorial Day weekend.
According to CENTCOM news release, soldiers discovered more than 60 artillery rounds under a bridge near Bayji June 1. Later that day, they stopped a dump truck carrying 137 artillery rounds.
An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed a portion of the rounds found at the bridge and transported the remainder to a coalition facility for destruction.
Munitions on board the dump truck were transported to a coalition facility for destruction and the driver was detained.
Division soldiers detained 60 suspected weapons smugglers and confiscated 1,650 artillery rounds hidden in nine trucks near Samarra May 31.
The suspects were taken to a coalition detention facility for questioning and the weapons were taken to a Coalition base for destruction.
In all, over the Memorial Day weekend, soldiers discovered six caches near Mansuriyah, Baqubah, Tikrit and Balad, according to CENTCOM officials.
The weekend weapons caches contained more than 400 artillery rounds, 101 anti- aircraft rounds, 57 mortar rounds, 47 rocket-propelled grenades, a RPG launcher, a machine gun and other munitions.
In related news, coalition forces have begun using a new hand-carried device called Vapor Tracer 2 to detect and identify vapors and particles produced by explosives and narcotics.
The detection system is currently being used in civilian airports throughout the United States to check people, baggage, vehicles and cargo for explosive substances.
Vapor Tracer 2 uses an atmospheric sampling technique that is extremely sensitive and fast.
Soldiers from Troop F, 9th Cavalry Regiment, used the Vapor Tracer 2 earlier in May on a mission to find a suspected cache of explosives.
The Vapor Tracer 2 is now being used at checkpoints around the coalition's central Baghdad "Green Zone."
Elsewhere in Iraq, coalition forces throughout the country are continuing with rebuilding efforts.
In Ramadi, Marines paid Kharma city officials $19,000 in initial payments for projects to improve the city's infrastructure and other programs.
Improvement projects include a $21,500 project to improve electrical power distribution, a $23,500 project to install billboards and flagpoles, and $2,500 to fund clean-up initiatives.
Marines also provided $7,000 in start-up funds for a soccer and handball in Fallujah.
In Baghdad, the 5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division , is working to repair faulty sewage facilities in the district of Rashid.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, the team plans to help the people of the district to overhaul the neglected sewage system there.
The plan calls for building new sewer lines to areas that never had service. In these areas, raw sewage currently runs from homes into open canals that pass through the center of town.
According to the news statement, the Coalition Provisional Authority has approved $40 million for the project. Iraqi contractors will do most of the work with oversight from the combat team and an American contractor, the release stated.
In addition, the unit is working on projects to solve the area's lack of trash- collection facilities, and will contract local Iraqi companies to clean manholes, fix broken lines and get substations running at 100 percent capacity.