Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Making Progress

George W. Bush tells us that progress is being made in Iraq. How much more progress can the country stand?

BAGDHAD, Iraq, March 21 -- In a bold raid at daybreak, a band of at least 100 insurgents stormed a police station in the town of Muqdadiya northeast of Baghdad today, killing at least 18 police officers, wounding four others and freeing all of the 33 prisoners being held in the station, officials in the Interior Ministry said.

The insurgents shelled the police station with mortar fire before attacking with rifle-propelled grenades, hand grenades and machine guns, the officials said. Reports of the number of insurgents killed or captured varied widely, with the Interior Ministry saying only one was killed and the American military putting the number at five.

The attackers destroyed about 20 police vehicles and set fire to the police station and a nearby courthouse before escaping, the Iraqi officials said. An Iraqi army unit that tried to reach the scene to support the police during the attack was disabled by a roadside bomb as the convoy passed through a city gate.

American ground forces and two American OH-58A Kiowa helicopters rushed to the scene in support of Iraqi troops, said Sgt. Doug Anderson, a military spokesman. The helicopters came under small-arms fire and one soldier was wounded, he said. The helicopters both landed safely.

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The Iraqi police found nine bodies in Baghdad on Monday, each handcuffed and blindfolded with gunshots to the head, in the latest indication of a wave of sectarian vengeance sweeping the capital.

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Police investigators in Salahaddin Province have accused American troops of executing 11 civilians, including several children, during a raid last Wednesday on a house in Ishaqi, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said Monday. According to the investigators, the Americans had lined up the civilians and shot them, then killed livestock and destroyed the house, the official said.

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In Baghdad, an improvised bomb exploded Monday under a vehicle carrying commandos from the Interior Ministry and several detainees, killing three of the commandos and three detainees in the Karrada neighborhood, and wounding two commandos and a detainee, a ministry official reported.

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Also on Monday, a bomb exploded inside a coffee shop in a Sunni district of Baghdad, killing 3 people and wounding 22, the police said. A bomb also exploded under a bus parked outside a restaurant in eastern Baghdad, killing 4 people and wounding 10.

The police in Kirkuk found the bodies of two Iraqi soldiers who had been kidnapped two days before. The victims had been stabbed to death, the police said.

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