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Soldier Killed Investigating Bomb Near Baqubah

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2004 – A 1st Infantry Division soldier was killed and two others were wounded today by an improvised explosive device near Baqubah, Iraq, according to a Combined Joint Task Force 7 news release.

The soldiers had arrived at the scene after the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps reported an IED. As the soldiers investigated, it exploded, the news release said. The wounded soldiers were reported to be in stable condition at a nearby military hospital.

Also in Iraq, the morale of the country's national police remains high, even though they've been the targets of deadly terrorist attacks over the past few months, a senior U.S. military official said today in Baghdad.

"There is a campaign of terrorism, of intimidation, on the parts of those that want to either return this country to a totalitarian dictatorship of 18 months ago," Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters, "or some sort of apocalyptic extremist society of 10 centuries ago."

Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Combined Joint Task Force 7, said terrorists are trying to intimidate law-abiding Iraqis by going after symbolic targets like the police, civil defense forces and others who can be labeled "as collaborators with the occupation," to include translators and innocent civilians. About 350 Iraqi police have been killed over the past year, Kimmitt said.

Yet, despite those losses and continued attacks, Kimmitt said, the Iraqi police "still have a tremendously high morale," while assisting efforts to impose the rule of law across the society. And there's been no significant decline in police recruitment or retention rates, the general added.

Kimmitt saluted the Iraqi police force's dedication to duty, praising its members' bravery, patriotism and mission focus.

"We should all be very, very grateful for their service to this country," Kimmitt said.

Dan Senor, the Coalition Provisional Authority's chief spokesman, who accompanied Kimmitt to the news briefing, said that efforts to disband Kurdish and other militias in Iraq are going well.

"It is coalition policy that there is no room for independent militias outside of the control of the national government of Iraq," Senor explained, adding that policy also is contained within the recently approved interim constitution. Members of disbanded militias, he noted, could join the Iraqi police or security forces, find other employment opportunities, or retire.

Senor also said a United Nations team requested by Iraqi and coalition officials will come to Iraq to assist in the stand-up of the interim Iraqi government and to help out in planning for coming elections. The previous U.N. delegation to Iraq, he pointed out, was withdrawn after it was the target of an Aug. 19 terrorist bombing.

The coalition welcomes the arrival of the new U.N. team, Senor said. "We have said all along there was a vital role for the United Nations in the reconstruction of Iraq," he noted.

Regarding efforts to engage terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, in the past 24 hours coalition forces conducted 1,412 patrols, 32 offensive operations and 17 raids, and captured 17 anti-coalition suspects, Kimmitt said.

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