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Roadside Bomb Claims Coalition Soldier, Wounds Iraqi Citizens

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2003 – One coalition soldier was killed and approximately 12 Iraqi citizens were wounded when a convoy was struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad early this morning, a military spokesman said in a briefing today from the Iraqi city.

In a separate incident in Baghdad another roadside bomb "slightly wounded" one coalition soldier, said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations, Combined Joint Task Force 7. Also, a coalition logistics convoy was attacked with automatic weapons south of Samarra. Two civilian drivers were treated and released for injuries, he added.

"Coalition forces continue offensive stability and security operations to enable the restoration of a free Iraq," said the general. The area of operations remains "relatively stable" and engagements remain below recent norms, he added. Over the past seven days there have been an average of 19 engagements daily against coalition military, three less than 22 attacks per day reported a week ago, and an average of two attacks per day against Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians.

"The coalition remains offensively oriented and will continue intelligence-based operations to kill or capture anti-coalition and anti-Iraqi elements attempting to obstruct a safe and secure environment in Iraq," Kimmitt said.

In the past 24 hours, the coalition has conducted 1,578 patrols and 24 raids, and captured 118 anti-coalition suspects.

The general said he hopes that the offensive operations that are being conducted against the enemy in Baghdad are the reason for the decline of engagements.

"(I hope) we have sent a clear message to the terrorists that we will come after you, we will kill you or we will capture you," he said. "We're here to provide a safe and secure environment for not only coalition forces but the people of Baghdad as well. But the enemy has the final vote on whether he wants to attack again. All we can do is continue to use intelligence to go after him, to stop him before the next attack."

Dan Senor, senior Coalition Provisional Authority spokesperson, announced that the White House has named former State Department and Treasury Secretary James Baker III as President Bush's envoy on Iraq's external financial obligations.

Reducing Iraq's debt has been a high priority and Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, CPA head, welcomes this announcement, said Senor.

In addition, Senor read a statement from Iraqi Minister of Finance Kamil Gailani endorsing the announcement. "This appointment will give significant momentum to the process of resolving Iraq's external financial obligations and reflects recognition by the United States government of the importance of this process. Resolving Iraq's external financial obligations is essential for Iraq's economic development, internal stability and ability to move past the dark period of the former regime."

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