Baghdad, Iraq The new year opened in Iraq with the same death and dismay that brought 2004 to a close: Attacks on and assassinations of Iraqi security forces and civilians targeted for working with the interim government or its U.S. military backers.
Guerrillas killed the city council chief and another local official Saturday in Baqouba, a provincial capital an hour's drive northeast of Baghdad. In Baghdad itself, they assassinated a police commander. And the decapitated bodies of two truck drivers who hauled supplies for U.S.-led forces turned up on the banks of the Tigris River.
The U.S. military also said a roadside bomb north of Baghdad killed one U.S. soldier and wounded another.
The killings are part of a brutal insurgent campaign to destabilize the interim government and intimidate average Iraqis into abandoning it. With national elections scheduled for Jan. 30, guerrillas have stepped up attacks on political, civilian and Iraqi security targets.
A video released Saturday on the Internet made the threat clear. Al-Qaida in Iraq, the recently renamed group belonging to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, showed what it said was the assassination of five Iraqi security officers in the middle of a street in Ramadi.
Calling the men "American dogs" and saying they had come "to the blessed jihad land of Ramadi to support the apostate government," a statement accompanying the video vowed: "Jihadists have no mercy when it comes to such infidel souls."
Ramadi, a mostly Sunni city west of Baghdad, is one of several communities where insurgents have brazenly and successfully attacked civilian and government targets.