Two US troops killed near Tikrit as Muslim nations rebuff US calls to send troops to Iraq
Several attacks on American occupation forces near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit have killed two US soldiers and wounded five others, it was reported Monday.
Since the Iraq war began in March, 328 U.S. troops have been killed, 211 in hostile attacks.
In one incident, a U.S. soldier was killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack, the U.S. military said. Two other troops were slightly injured when resistance fighters attacked a patrol of Bradley fighting vehicles.
In an earlier attack, a U.S. soldier was killed in a land mine explosion in Beiji and a second was slightly wounded.
Also in Tikrit region, an improvised explosive device detonated at 2:10 p.m. Sunday in between two Humvees, lightly wounding three soldiers. One suffered a shrapnel wound, the other two had slight concussions.
In Basra, one British soldier was slightly injured Monday in an explosion, the British military said. Local residents said the explosion occurred as the soldier's vehicle was passing near a petrol station.
Meanwhile, Iraq's Interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said in Malaysia on Monday that the bombings that killed at least six people in Baghdad Sunday were the work of "terrorists" out to derail Iraq's quick return to normalcy.
"The security situation is a main challenge. There are many elements from the old regime, remnants of the defeated regime, plus some terrorists who have their own agenda, trying to stop this new Iraq progress towards freedom, towards stabilisation," he said.
Speaking to reporters in Malaysia, where he is attending a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Zeberi pointed out that most of the victims of Sunday's "evil acts" were Iraqi civilians.
Responding to calls from OIC officials for an end to the US occupation of his country, Zeberi said Iraq's return to full democracy following the ouster of Saddam Hussein earlier this year would take time.
"We share this view but we feel that this needs to be done in a gradual, in a phased way so the new Iraq would be stable, prosperous, open, democratic and in control of the security situation," he said.
"Nobody should question the Iraqi people's willingness and desire to regain their sovereignty and full independence. But we understand that at the same time, it's not easy, it's a complex issue and will need to be done in a gradual way."
For their part, Muslim nations ruled out sending troops to help the United States in Iraq without a UN mandate. The Bush administration has asked Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey to deploy soldiers to ease the burden on US forces confronting mounting resistance in Iraq, but only Turkey has agreed.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri told AFP his country did "not want to be perceived as an extension of the occupation force." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)