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26 Die in String of Attacks on Iraqi Forces

Insurgents Focus On Tikrit Area

By Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 29, 2004; Page A14

BAGHDAD, Dec. 28 -- Insurgents launched a series of deadly attacks against Iraqi security forces Tuesday, killing at least 26 police officers and National Guardsmen and wounding 43, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

Most of the attacks, which were aimed at security checkpoints, passing convoys and police stations, took place in the area known as the Sunni Triangle, north and west of Baghdad.


A 7-year-old girl, standing near an Iraqi guardsman in Baghdad, cries after a car bomb exploded near her school. A senior guard official escaped injury. (Ali Jasim -- Reuters)


Iraq War Dead

p>Total number of U.S. military deaths and names of the troops killed in the Iraq war as announced by the Pentagon yesterday:

1,324

Fatalities in hostile actions:

1,040

In non-hostile actions:

284

Staff Sgt. Todd D. Olson, 36, of Loyal, Wis.; Army National Guard 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment, based in Neillsville, Wis. Died Dec. 27 of wounds sustained in Samarra on Dec. 26.

Total fatalities include three civilian employees of the Defense Department.

A full list of casualties is available online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation

SOURCE: Defense Department's www.defenselink.mil/news The Washington Post

Violence in the area has been intense, and the largest political party representing Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority announced Monday that it would not participate in the Jan. 30 election of a national assembly. The Iraqi Islamic Party said the decision was made, in part, because of a lack of security in places where it expected to draw voter support.

The attacks Tuesday were focused around Tikrit, the home town of ousted president Saddam Hussein, about 90 miles north of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. Tikrit had been relatively peaceful for five months, but that calm was broken when gunmen stormed a police station just south of the city early in the morning. Thirteen officers were killed, and the station was destroyed.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Sinclair, commander of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, which is responsible for the station, said the officers who were killed had new equipment and had been trained. "Sometimes in the past, the insurgents would just run the police out, tell them not to come back and then destroy the police station," he said. "Maybe these guys thought that was the plan here so they did not fight until it was too late."

Insurgents attacked at least four other sites in and around Tikrit during the day, using car and roadside bombs and a spray of automatic weapons fire.

An employee at Tikrit City Hall said 25 members of the Iraqi National Guard resigned immediately after the attacks.

In Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, a National Guard patrol hit a roadside bomb at about 11:30 a.m., wounding four of the men. When an Iraqi ordnance disposal team responded to the scene to defuse a second devise, a car bomb went off, killing five guardsmen and wounding 26, said Maj. Neal O'Brien, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division. No Americans were injured, but one Iraqi civilian was killed and one wounded.

A police captain who was shot outside a cafe in Baqubah on Monday night died of his wounds Tuesday, his father said. Naeem Abdulluh, 32, was gunned down near his home with his brother on Monday night, their father said. The brother was injured. "We were at the house, and suddenly we heard some shooting," the father said. "We went out, and I saw two of my sons bleeding." Both were taken to Baqubah General Hospital, where Abdulluh died.

In the same region on Tuesday, a car bomb exploded in a village 18 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing five civilians and wounding dozens, Ahmed Fouad, a physician at Baqubah General Hospital, told the Associated Press.

In Mosul, 220 miles north of Baghdad, a gunman attacked a police station in the Hadbaa district, killing one officer.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond of the 1st Cavalry Division said at a news conference in Baghdad that the attacks were designed to instill fear in people.

"This evil, pathetic minority is interested in one thing, the use of fear to gain power," he said.

Iraqi security forces have been under attack for months. Members of the National Guard, who are being trained by the U.S. military, are popular targets for insurgents, who consider the guardsmen to be closely aligned with the U.S. occupation force.


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