Baghdad, July 20 (Reuters): Two US soldiers were killed in northern Iraq today and an Iraqi UN driver died after a UN convoy came under fire for the first time.
The killing of four of its soldiers within 48 hours added to domestic pressure on the US to persuade reluctant allies who opposed its invasion to share the burden in Iraq.
The attack on the aid workers highlighted the lawlessness in Iraq since US-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein in April.
A foreign employee of the UN-affiliated International Organisation for Migration (IOM) was slightly injured and the driver killed when their vehicle veered into a bus after being raked by gunfire from a passing car south of the capital.
“We do not intend to allow it to curtail our humanitarian activities,” UN spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi said in Baghdad, calling the shooting near Hilla an isolated incident.
A US military spokesperson said two soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division were killed and a third wounded in an ambush by gunmen firing rocket-propelled grenades west of Mosul.
The deaths brought to 37 the number of troops killed by the enemy since President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1.
Today’s ambush near Tall Afur was in Sunni tribal lands but well beyond the pro-Saddam “Sunni Triangle” north and west of Baghdad where attacks have been concentrated — a reminder that the occupiers’ problems are not confined to that area.
To the south of Baghdad in Najaf, a city holy to the long-oppressed Shia majority, more than 10,000 angry, anti-American Shia demonstrators dispersed only after US Marines stood their ground with fixed bayonets.
US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz, on a visit to Iraq, said at Saddam’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad that Iraqis who committed atrocities during Saddam’s rule were backing the guerrilla campaign.