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Archive for Saturday, August 12, 2006

Missing bodies of 2 U.S. soldiers found

August 12, 2006

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— The bodies of two U.S. soldiers missing since a helicopter crash this week were found west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Friday. That brought the number of U.S. troops to die this month in Iraq to at least 19 - most in insurgent-plagued Anbar province.

Four U.S. service members - two from the Army and two from the Navy - were injured when the U.S. Army UH60 Blackhawk helicopter went down Tuesday. The military has said the crash was not a result of hostile fire.

All but five of the U.S. military deaths in Iraq this month have occurred in Anbar province, the Sunni Arab-dominated province west of Baghdad that long has been a center of the insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition.

Baghdad was generally quiet Friday as a vehicle ban kept private cars and trucks off the streets for much of the day. The government restricts use of private cars in Baghdad on Fridays, the main Muslim day of worship, to prevent car bomb attacks on mosques.

However, Shiite assailants ransacked and burned a provincial office of the Iraqi president's Kurdish party early Friday, accusing its official newspaper of unfairly criticizing a Shiite cleric, police said.

About 50 armed followers of Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yacoubi stormed the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by President Jalal Talabani, beat up the guards and destroyed furniture before setting the building on fire, said police Lt. Othman al-Lami.

The attackers fled after seizing three AK-47 rifles from the guards, one of whom was injured, al-Lami said. There were no officials in the office during the early-morning raid in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The offending article in the PUK newspaper included a July 29 statement by al-Yacoubi in which he accused Kurds in the Kurdish-dominated Tamim province, which includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, of attacking Arabs and Turkomen.

It said al-Yacoubi was spreading "hatred against the Kurds" and trying to "ignite a war between the Arab Shiites and Kurds."

In a statement Friday, Talabani acknowledged that some of the phrases used in his party newspaper's article were "inappropriate ... despite the bitterness that he and every Kurdish felt" over al-Yacoubi's purported statement.

He said he was not aware of the article's contents until it was published.

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