Sources: The Associated Press & The Reuters
Via: MECRA News & Research Analyses Service
October 26-03-II
Iraq

===============
U.S. Colonel Killed in Iraq Hotel Strike

By CHARLES J. HANLEY
.c The Associated Press


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - In a daring strike, insurgents attacked the heart of the
U.S. occupation Sunday, unleashing a barrage of rockets against the Al
Rasheed hotel where U.S. officials live and where visiting Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz was staying. Wolfowitz escaped, but an American colonel was
killed and 15 people were wounded.

Scores of American officials fled the hotel in pajamas and shorts after the
6:10 a.m. assault, which apparently used a makeshift rocket battery on a timer
that had been wheeled into a nearby park. More than a half-dozen holes
pockmarked the hotel's concrete facade and windows were shattered in two dozen rooms.

Wolfowitz, who appeared shaken as he addressed reporters at a convention
center across the street where most officials fled, vowed the attack would not
deter the United States in its mission to transform Iraq.

``There are a few who refuse to accept the reality of a new and free Iraq,''
he said. ``We will be unrelenting in our pursuit of them.''

The bold strike from nearly point-blank range once again pointed up the
vulnerability of even heavily guarded U.S. facilities in Iraq, where American
forces sustain an average of 26 lower-profile attacks daily. Wolfowitz was wrapping
up a tour to assess ways to defeat a stubborn six-month-old insurgency.

The slain American was a colonel, Wolfowitz said, without identifying him.
That would be one of the highest ranking U.S. military officers killed in the
Iraqi insurgency. Since President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq
on May 1, 109 U.S. soldiers have been killed by hostile fire.

The 15 people wounded included seven American civilians, four U.S. military
personnel and four ``non-U.S. coalition civilian partners,'' according to a
statement by the U.S. command. One Briton was among the wounded.

The Al Rasheed, which houses civilian occupation officials and U.S. military
forces, is the downtown Baghdad district at the heart of the U.S.-led
adminstration of Iraq, about a mile from the palace housing the coalition headquarters
and the offices of interim Iraqi Governing Council. Wolfowitz, one of the
architects of the war that ousted Saddam Hussein, was in the Al Rasheed at the
time of the attack, Maj. Paul Swiergosz said at the Pentagon.

The attackers had boldly driven to the edge of a park just 500 yards
southwest of the hotel, towing what looked like a portable, two-wheeled generator,
Iraqi police said. They quickly fled, and rockets suddenly ignited within the
trailer, apparently on a timer, flashing toward the nearby hotel. Their impact
resounded across central Baghdad. The heaviest damage was on what appeared to be
the fifth and eighth floors of the modern, 18-story building.

Three approaching security guards were injured by the ignition blast, police
said.

Wolfowitz, expressing ``profound sympathy'' for the victims, said danger
persists in Iraq ``as long as there are criminals out there staging hit-and-run
attacks.''

The top U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, said he didn't know
whether Wolfowitz was the intended target of the attack.

``We certainly had a bad day,'' Bremer told ABC's ``This Week.'' ``Freedom
still has its enemies in Iraq, and we've got to expect that we're gonna have to
defeat these terrorists and these Baathists before we get to a more secure
situation.''

Just a day earlier, and only hours after the deputy secretary left the 4th
Infantry Division base at Tikrit, north of Baghdad, a division helicopter
crash-landed after insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade near the base. The
Black Hawk pilot managed to maintain control after the hit and crash-landed,
said division spokeswoman Maj. Jossyln Aberle. One crewmember was injured, she
said.

``We can confirm the helicopter took fire from an RPG while in the air,''
Aberle said Sunday. Two persons with the RPG launcher were captured, she said.

The hotel attack came two hours after coalition authorities ended the
nighttime curfew in the Iraqi capital in preparation for the Muslim holy month
Ramadan, which begins here Monday. Officials cited improved security as the reason
for ending the curfew.

An Iraqi police commander, who refused to give his name, said the attackers,
in a white Chevrolet pickup, had driven down a main road passing a few hundred
yards from the hotel and stopped at the edge of the city's main Zawra Park
and Zoo. Security guards of the new Facilities Protection Service spotted the
activity.

``We approached him (the driver) to tell him to move the car. When he saw us,
he fled,'' one of the injured guards, Jabbar Tarek, said at a nearby hospital.

As Tarek and others approached, the rockets fired off from the blue trailer,
police said. Tarek said the guards weren't armed, or ``I would have fired on
him.''

Later Sunday morning, U.S. soldiers could be seen removing at least two
3-foot-long rockets from the trailer.

``There is no guarantee we can protect against this kind of thing unless we
have soldiers on every block,'' said Lt. Brian Dowd of Nanuet, N.Y., a 1st
Armored Division reconnaissance officer at the scene.

Barely a mile away, the road crosses the Tigris River at the 14th of July
Bridge, which U.S. authorities reopened Saturday for the first time since the
city fell to American troops in April.

Iraqi security guard Dafer Jawad, 28, said that from the convention center he
saw projectiles flying toward the hotel.

``There was a whooshing sound,'' he said. ``One landed in the front of the
hotel. I saw very heavy white smoke in front of the hotel.... Many people
started rushing across from the hotel into the Convention Center.''

The hotel also was attacked Sept. 27 with small rockets or rocket-propelled
grenades, causing only minimal damage.

U.S. officials had warned that ``Islamic extremists'' planned to carry out a
suicide bombing attack against an unspecified hotel in the city's Karrada
district used by Westerners. But the warning did not specify a target, and the Al
Rasheed is not in that district.

A car bomb on Oct. 12 against the Baghdad Hotel, also used by U.S. officials,
killed eight people, including the bomber, but security measures prevented
the vehicle from reaching the building before it exploded.       


  
10/26/03 10:09 EST
   

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.
============================================
FACTBOX-Table of military casualties in Iraq


LONDON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Rockets struck the heavily guarded Rashid hotel in
Baghdad on Sunday where U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was
staying.

One U.S. soldier assigned to the Coalition Provisional Authority was killed
and 15 other coalition personnel were wounded, the U.S. military said.

U.S. Central Command later reported that one 4th Infantry Division soldier
died of a non-hostile gunshot wound in Baquba.

Following is a table of casualties suffered by U.S., British and other
forces, as well as Iraqis, since the U.S.-led assault on Iraq began on March 20.
Sources for Iraqi casualties are unofficial.

The figures in brackets refer to casualties since May 1, when U.S. President
George W. Bush declared major combat over.

U.S., BRITISH AND OTHER TROOPS KILLED:

COMBAT/ATTACKS

United States    224   (109)

Britain           19   (11)

Other nations           

NON-COMBAT

United States    124   (101)

Britain           32    (7)

Other nations      1    (1)

IRAQIS KILLED:

MILITARY       #4,895 to 6370

CIVILIANS      Between 7,768 and 9,578+

- Unofficial think tank estimates. No official figures available.

- Figure compiled on Web site
www.iraqbodycount.net, run by academics and
peace activists, based on incidents reported by at least two media sources.

NOTE: NON-COMBAT is defined as accidents, U.S. or British fire killing or
wounding their own troops, and other incidents unrelated to fighting.


  
10/26/03 09:42 ET
   
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.
=============================================
Thousands Rally to End Iraq Occupation

By JENNIFER C. KERR
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - To chants of ``Impeach Bush,'' thousands of anti-war
protesters rallied in the nation's capital Saturday and delivered a scathing
critique of President Bush and his Iraq policy.

Demanding an end to the U.S.-led occupation and the quick return of American
troops, the demonstrators gathered on a sunny fall day at the Washington
Monument to listen to speeches and songs of peace.

One man's small cardboard sign gave his summing-up of the day: ``This
administration does not represent me,'' it said in black capital letters typewritten
on white paper.

Al Sharpton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, exhorted
the crowd not to be content with the gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces from
Iraq.

``Don't give Bush $87 billion, don't give him 87 cents, give our troops a
ride home,'' Sharpton said to loud cheers from the crowd.

In contrast, people stood up to 12 deep in Oceanside, Calif., to cheer more
than 11,000 Marines and sailors who marched through downtown in the homecoming
of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at nearby Camp Pendleton. Many
held flags or signs that said ``Thank You,'' and red, white and blue confetti
filled the air.

Hundreds of anti-war protesters also took to sun-drenched streets in San
Francisco.

``This war is not about us,'' actor Danny Glover told the protesters. ``It is
against us, against Iraqi people, and against our children.'' Burbank,
Calif., bookstore owner Bill Nelson said, ``We want the money here for health care
and jobs, not a military industrial complex.''

The rallies on both coasts were organized by International ANSWER (Act Now to
Stop War and End Racism) and United for Peace and Justice.

The protest in Washington drew a diverse crowd - young, old, veterans,
relatives with loved ones in the armed forces and American Muslims. An activist
group of older women called the Raging Grannies, singing anti-Bush songs, brought
whoops of agreement from the protesters.

Organizers estimated that 100,000 people turned out for the demonstration,
but police at the scene put the number much lower, from 10,000 to 20,000. Police
no longer issue official crowd estimates, so the size of the protest could
not be verified.

Waving signs reading ``Make Jobs Not War'' and ``Bush is a liar,'' the
protesters marched down around the White House, on to the Justice Department and
then back to the Washington Monument.

But the activists weren't afforded the symbolic satisfaction of yelling
protests to the White House gates, because the Secret Service put up barriers to
keep them from marching directly in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Bush was
spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

Michael McPhearson, a veteran from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, denounced the
president, saying he had misled the nation. ``You have butchered the truth,
George Bush.''

The D.C. chapter of Free Republic, an independent grass-roots conservative
group, gathered a few dozen people at the U.S. Capitol to show support for Bush
and the troops in Iraq.

``Whether or not the war should have started is a moot point,'' said Eric
Campbell, a 32-year-old who served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. ``We have to
stay if anything for the Iraqi people.''

Associated Press writers Jesse J. Holland, Elizabeth Wolfe, and Jennifer
Loven in Washington and Mielikki Org in San Francisco contributed to this report.


  
10/26/03 09:20 EST
   

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press
============================================
Republicans fret over Rumsfeld's drag on his party

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in a leaked
memorandum, forecast that America faced "a long, hard slog" in Iraq and
Afghanistan, but the same can be said about Rumsfeld's own political fortunes.

Knowledgeable Republicans and defense analysts described mounting frustration
with Rumsfeld in the White House and among Republicans in Congress amid
ongoing difficulties in Iraq that could jeopardize U.S. President George W. Bush's
re-election bid in 2004.

"Rumsfeld has become in many ways a problem for the Republican Party. And you
can make the case that he's become a net liability given how the Iraq issue
has unfolded," said Brookings Institution defense analyst Michael O'Hanlon. "If
the president's re-election bid is now in some doubt, it's more because of
the problems in Iraq than any other single factor."

The last three weeks have been tough for Rumsfeld, a dominant player in
national security and foreign policy during Bush's three years in office.

Bush recently ended Rumsfeld's supremacy in U.S. policy in Iraq and
Afghanistan by naming Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, to coordinate
those efforts.

Bush then was forced to repudiate comments about Islam by a general who
Rumsfeld put in a key intelligence post. Rumsfeld has not condemned the remarks by
Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who called America's battle with Muslim extremists a
duel with "Satan," and said Muslims worship an "idol" not a "real God."

And the "slog" memo, released by the Pentagon after it appeared in USA Today,
showed Rumsfeld harbored private doubts about progress in Iraq and against al
Qaeda at the same time Bush and others were touting accomplishments in those
efforts.

A well-placed Republican source said Rumsfeld was not currently in danger of
being fired, but doubted he would return as defense secretary if voters give
Bush another term.

"I think Rumsfeld has had it. He's put in place some (Defense Department)
reforms, and now it's up to others to implement it," the source said.

This Republican thought Rumsfeld himself leaked the memo. In it, Rumsfeld
said America had not made "truly bold moves" in fighting terrorism, had garnered
"mixed results" against al Qaeda, and asked, "Are we winning or losing the
global war on terror?"

'CLASSIC RUMMY'

"It's classic Rummy," this Republican said. "It sends a shot across the bow
of the White House that (says), 'Don't mess with the other side of the
Potomac."' The Pentagon sits across the Potomac River from Washington.

"I get the sense that Rumsfeld is a man who understands that to leave his
stamp on the department and to have his place in history, he doesn't have much
time left," added analyst Charles Pena of the Cato Institute.

Bush to a remarkable degree had entrusted Iraq policy to Rumsfeld, including
pacification and reconstruction as well as incubating a new Iraqi government.

But law and order remains elusive, as illustrated by Sunday's rocket attack
on the hotel where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying during a
visit to Baghdad. The death toll mounts for U.S. troops amid daily attacks by
a shadowy resistance. The U.S. military is straining to maintain troop
levels. And some U.S. allies and Iraqis want a speedier return of sovereignty.

"At this point, blaming Rumsfeld isn't going to be in any way a solution. It
is not clear that Secretary Powell or Miss Rice are in any way more competent
than Secretary Rumsfeld is," said analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for
Strategic and International Studies.

Pentagon relations remain tense with some Republicans in Congress, including
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner of Virginia and Sen. John
McCain of Arizona. A Senate Republican aide said dissatisfaction with
Rumsfeld was "pretty broad" among congressional Republicans and "Warner's clearly not
happy."

Warner on Friday issued a statement noting "differences" with Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld on Tuesday said a Pentagon inspector general's probe of Boykin was
prompted by the general's own request even though Warner had written him a letter
seeking such a probe. Rumsfeld said the letter "may be somewhere around the
building" but he never saw it.

Warner and McCain have sparred with the Pentagon over Air Force plans to
lease Boeing jets as refueling tankers, with the Pentagon spurning McCain's
request for records on the deal.

The Republican aide said firing Rumsfeld could harm Republicans, saying "to
remove him would in some sense undermine your efforts in Iraq," and call into
question the wisdom of a war so fundamental to the party's political outlook.


  
10/26/03 09:05 ET
   
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.
================================================
U.S. Says One American Killed in Hotel

.c The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - One U.S. soldier was killed and 15 other people were
wounded in the rocket attack Sunday at the Al Rasheed Hotel, the U.S. military
said.

The wounded included seven American civilians, four U.S. military personnel
and four ``non-U.S. coalition civilian partners,'' the military said in a
statement.

No further details were released.


  
10/26/03 05:49 EST
   

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press
============================================
U.S. confirms Black Hawk was shot down in Iraq


TIKRIT, Iraq, Oct 26 (Reuters) - A U.S. Black Hawk helicopter which crashed
in Iraq on Saturday was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, the U.S.
military said.

"The chopper was airborne when it was hit by an RPG," Master Sergeant Robert
Cargie, spokesman for the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, told Reuters on
Sunday.

The helicopter came down in farmland near the 4th Infantry Division's base in
ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. One
soldier was wounded among the crew of five.

A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad had said on Saturday the aircraft landed
and was hit after it was already down.

The attack took place hours after U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz left the Tikrit base by helicopter after visiting troops.

On Sunday guerrillas fired rockets at the Baghdad hotel where Wolfowitz was
staying, killing one U.S. soldier.


  
10/26/03 05:56 ET
   
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.
================================================
Bremer says Iraq not less secure despite attacks


WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. administrator in Iraq said on Sunday
he did not think security in the country was deteriorating, despite rocket
attacks on the Baghdad hotel where America's deputy defense secretary was staying.

"I don't think that is true," Paul Bremer told ABC's "This Week with George
Stephanopoulos," when asked whether he thought Sunday's attacks were a sign
security was worsening.

"We certainly had a bad day and as I have stressed all along we are going to
have good days and bad days," he added.

But he conceded attacks on U.S. occupation forces appeared to be getting more
dangerous.

"There is evidence that the terrorist groups are getting better organized and
they are using now more sophisticated approaches, in particular the use of
these improvised explosive devices alongside our convoys," said Bremer. "That is
a serious problem and it is one that we will have to continue to get at."

Early on Sunday, guerrillas fired rockets at Baghdad's most heavily fortified
hotel where U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying, killing
an American soldier. Wolfowitz was very shaken but not hurt.

Bremer said bad news such as Sunday's attack on the Rashid Hotel overshadowed
all the good news, such as restoring Iraq's power to pre-war levels and the
lifting of a curfew in Baghdad in response to requests from restaurant owners.

The U.S. ruler in Iraq said he did not believe Iraqis were concerned about
the latest attacks against U.S. forces but were more worried about criminal
elements in the country, particularly as ousted President Saddam Hussein had
released about 100,000 hardened criminals from jail.

"Those are the kind of people that the Iraqis are most concerned about," he
said.

Bremer said most of the "terrorists" in Iraq were not Iraqis but came from
countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan and across the border from Syria.

Border control was a major issue in Iraq, he said, adding that it was very
difficult to seal the country's borders and that assistance from foreign troops
would help here.


  
10/26/03 09:36 ET
   
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.
=============================================
Iraqi unit may have foiled bigger attack,Wolfowitz


BAGHDAD, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Iraqi security units working with American forces
may have foiled a bigger attack on the Rashid Hotel on Sunday when they
prevented attackers from fully arming all their rocket launchers, U.S. Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.

Wolfowitz, briefing reporters after visiting victims of the attack at a U.S.
military hospital, said that U.S. soldiers manning an observation post saw men
positioning a trailer with the rockets aboard near the hotel.

"Within about three minutes of their spotting the guys depositing this
trailer, they notified the facility's protection service people on the ground... and
those guys went straight to the trailer," Wolfowitz said.

The facility's protection units are Iraqis beings trained by the Americans as
part of the new security force for the country.

Wolfowitz said: "As a result of that, the perpetrators fled before they could
fully arm the device. That appears to be what happened. And the two Iraqis
were wounded from shrapnel that came bouncing off the wall."

The brazen attack killed a U.S. soldier but a defiant Wolfowitz vowed that
the United States would not be cowed into abandoning Iraq.

Fifteen people were also wounded in the strike that is a setback for the Bush
administration, undermining its insistence the United States is winning the
guerrilla war in Iraq despite escalating violence.


  
10/26/03 09:28 ET
   
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited.  All rights reserved.

 

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