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Homemade bomb kills U.S. soldier in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq—A U.S. patrol in north Baghdad was hit by a homemade bomb early Monday, taking the life of a soldier in the 1st Armored Division.

In Washington, the CIA reported that the voice on a taped message urging Iraqis to support those who are attacking U.S. troops most likely was Saddam Hussein's, the first time the U.S. government made public evidence that the former Iraqi leader had survived attempts to kill him during the American-led invasion of Iraq.

More than two months after the Iraq war ended, the U.S. military still hasn't been able to stop the brazen attacks on its troops. At least 29 American and six British troops have been killed in such attacks since May 1, when President Bush declared that major combat operations were over.

On Sunday, two soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, the main U.S. Army division in Baghdad, were killed in separate incidents: One was shot during broad daylight at Baghdad University, and the other lost his life during an ambush later that evening. The Army hasn't yet released their names. Then, four service members were injured Sunday night in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

The war against Saddam's army was quick, but the battle for the hearts and minds of Iraqis, it seems, is an arduous task.

The taped message purportedly from Saddam, released Friday, said "hardly a day or a week passes without the blood of the infidels being let on our chaste land."

The tape exhorted Iraqis to support the fighters who have been launching guerrilla-style attacks on U.S. troops: "I urge you to protect the heroic resistance fighters and not to give the infidel invaders or their aides any information or help."

It's impossible to know for certain whether the voice is Saddam's, or determine the date the recording was made, CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said. On the tape, the voice said the recording was made June 14.

The U.S. patrol hit by a bomb Monday was going through the capital's Khadamiya neighborhood, a predominantly Shiite Muslim enclave.

U.S. officials have long maintained that their problem lies with Saddam loyalists who find refuge in a Sunni Muslim area west and north of Baghdad. Saddam, a Sunni, is from that area.

But in Khadamiya on Monday, plenty of people said more violence would follow if the Americans didn't leave. A civil affairs soldier was shot in the neighborhood June 27 while shopping for DVDs.

"We will fight. We will kill them," said Abdul Sada, a Shiite bus driver, who pantomimed chopping off a head. "Our customs don't allow strangers to move around our area."

Standing next to Sada, Jafar Ismail said anti-American sentiment was widespread.

"It is not Sunni. It is not Shiite. All of Iraq hates the American troops," he said. "If the American soldiers stop near our mosques, they will be shot."

It was the same sort of rhetoric heard in late June in the Shiite town of al Majar in southern Iraq, when locals killed six British soldiers and wounded eight.

Lauai Rasul, a 14-year-old boy in Khadamiya, expressed the frustration of many Iraqis: "I feel angry. There is no freedom. There is no government. There are gunfights, and we are afraid to go out at night."

The attacks on American soldiers in the past seven days have been brutal. In addition to Sunday's and Monday's deaths:

_ July 3: A soldier was shot and killed outside the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. Six were wounded in a bomb blast in Ramadi. A mortar attack in Balad, to the north, injured 14. Three more soldiers were injured in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Baghdad.

_ July 1: A bomb killed a soldier in Baghdad.

"We've seen attacks inside and outside of Baghdad. But we still don't see any kind of master plan," said Maj. William D. Thurmond, a spokesman for the Army's Combined Joint Task Force in Iraq.

At the Iraqi National Congress, an Iraqi-exile-led political party that has been very friendly with the Bush administration, one top official said Monday that the Americans should strongly consider moving their troops out of towns.

"We are not satisfied to see the U.S. troops on the streets like sitting ducks," said INC spokesman Entifadh Qanbar, who recommended that the coalition replace troops with an Iraqi security force. "The U.S. presence inside cities has created a very fertile ground for anti-U.S. conspiracy theories" that lead to violence.


(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.