Attacks escalate

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Jul 4 06:22:04 MDT 2003

Attacks Leave U.S. Soldier Dead, 18 Hurt

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Mortar rounds slammed into a U.S. base north of
Baghdad, wounding 18 American troops, and another U.S. soldier was shot and
killed while guarding the national museum in the capital, the U.S. military
said Friday.

The attacks cast a shadow over the July 4th holiday for the 150,000 U.S.
troops stationed in Iraq.

Several explosions rocked the base near Balad, 55 miles north of the
capital, late Thursday, said Cpl. Todd Pruden, a spokesman for the U.S.
military. The area is within a hot zone known as the ``Sunni triangle,'' an
area north and west of Baghdad where Saddam Hussein enjoyed his greatest
support. Initial reports put the number of wounded between 10 and 19.

It is also an area where U.S. troops are conducting an operation to root
out Saddam loyalists.

Two soldiers were seriously hurt, with one undergoing surgery in a hospital
on the base and another evacuated for treatment, Bryja said. Others
suffered cuts and small punctures from flying shrapnel, with nine soldiers
already back on duty, Army officials said.

Soldiers said flares and tracer bullets sliced across the night sky after
the blasts.

``This is the first time the base was attacked -- and the first time we've
seen mortars,'' said Sgt. Grant Calease, who said he and other soldiers
would nonetheless carry on with a July 4th steak barbecue.


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