07/21 - Iraqi insurgents turn to roadside bombs - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

07/21 - Iraqi insurgents turn to roadside bombs

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Posted: Monday, July 21, 2003 12:09 pm | Updated: 1:23 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents are increasingly using roadside bombs detonated by remote control to attack American forces in Iraq - the latest killing a U.S. soldier and his Iraqi translator in northern Baghdad on Monday.

As part of an effort to lower the U.S. profile in Iraq, the new U.S. commander in the region announced plans to establish an Iraqi militia to help patrol the country.

Monday's attack wounded three other members of the 1st Armored Division squad and destroyed two Humvees. A military spokesman credited an Iraqi vendor with saving one of the injured soldiers.

"One man who worked at a nearby stand helped the soldiers out of the vehicles. That probably saved one soldier's life," Lt. Col. John Kem said.

In the past week, three roadside bombs have exploded, each killing an American soldier, and troops discovered and defused at least one other. Four soldiers have died in attacks from rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, the weapons used in nearly all attacks before last week.

The bomb that was defused was hidden in a mold used to make blocks of ice and designed to be detonated by a radio-controlled doorbell button - meaning it did not require a wire connection. Witnesses have reported other roadside bombs were set off by men sitting in cars some distance from the convoys, ensuring a quick getaway.

Gen. John Abizaid, on his first visit to Iraq since taking over at U.S. Central Command, said he would create an Iraqi civil defense force of nearly 7,000 men to patrol with the U.S. military. It would consist of eight battalions, each with about 850 armed Iraqi militiamen.

Commanders said the militia was an effort to lower the profile of American forces.

"An Iraqi militia will be a localized effort to assist local governors in running their areas. It will assist coalition forces on an as-needed basis to put an Iraqi face on things," Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway said in Hillah, south of Baghdad.

Abizaid's visit coincided with one by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who was in the northern city of Mosul on Monday, meeting with American forces and warning Iraqis that the United States would not be able to solve all the country's economic troubles.

"Some people think that because we're the United States we can fix things right away. We can't," Wolfowitz said.

Wolfowitz was escorted in Mosul, a city of 2.3 million people, by Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne.

Petraeus told Wolfowitz he was focused on winning the Iraqi people's confidence that U.S. troops are here to help rebuild the country, even while they are shot at by remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime.

As an example, Petraeus said that he improvised on the Army's usual "cordon and search" technique of securing a building. He calls it "cordon and knock."

Instead of having his men secure the perimeter, then kick down doors to clear it of potential enemies, he leaves it to Iraqi security forces to check the building inside and clear it out.

Also Monday, Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who is working to reorganize the Iraqi police, announced that Hassan al-Obeidi will be interim police chief for the Baghdad. Al-Obeidi is a 57-year-old former police officer.

A U.S. military official in Iraq said, meanwhile, that the Pentagon planned to field a first contingent of a new Iraqi army by October.

A three-man delegation from Iraq's American-picked Governing Council, led by former Iraqi foreign minister Adnan Pachachi, will attend Tuesday's U.N. Security Council debate on Iraq. It was not known if the 80-year-old Pachachi would address the council.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the Security Council that the Governing Council "will provide a broadly representative Iraqi partner with whom the United Nations and the international community at large can engage."

But he said Iraqis need to "see a clear timetable leading to the full restoration of sovereignty. There is a pressing need to set out a clear and specific sequence of events leading to the end of military occupation."

The Security Council was to discuss his report on Tuesday. A text was made available to The Associated Press on Monday.

Also, the Arab satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera aired what it said was videotape of a new insurgent group called the "Jihad Brigade."

The tape showed several men sitting on the floor wearing white robes and with red keffiyehs covering their faces. They clutched Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

One man read a statement vowing to "take revenge" for all Iraqis killed by American forces and called for a guerrilla war to liberate Iraq.

"We will make the earth shake under their feet," he said.

"We will kill the spies and traitors," another man said, an apparent reference to Iraqis working with the Americans.

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