| A soldier keeps watch in Falluja. (Reuters)
Baghdad, Oct. 2 (Reuters): The top American general in Iraq said today guerrillas fighting his troops were becoming deadlier, after the killing of three more soldiers added urgency to US efforts to garner help stabilising the country.
A military spokesman said a soldier from the 4th Infantry Division was killed last evening in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a convoy driving through the town of Samarra, in the heart of the turbulent “Sunni triangle” region.
A female soldier from the same division was killed earlier yesterday and three soldiers wounded when guerrillas detonated a remote-control bomb as a convoy passed in deposed dictator Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit. In Baghdad, an attacker with a handgun ambushed soldiers after dark ysterday in the Mansur neighbourhood, killing one and wounding another, the Army said.
The attacks brought to at least 84 the number of US soldiers killed in action since Washington declared major combat over on May 1, according to Pentagon figures.
“The enemy has evolved. It is a little bit more lethal, little bit more complex, little bit more sophisticated and in some cases a little bit more tenacious,“ said Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of ground forces in Iraq.
“As long as we are here the coalition need to be prepared to take casualties,” he told a news conference. “We should not be surprised if one of these days we wake up to find there’s been a major firefight or a major terrorist attack.”
In the town of Falluja, a centre of resistance to US forces, police said US gunfire killed an Iraqi man and wounded a woman and a six-year-old girl after an American patrol was shot at today. Two police officers were also wounded. Kurdish police said they had seized a large weapons cache, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, mortars, rocket- propelled grenades and machineguns. They also arrested three suspected arms traffickers in a raid near the northern town of Arbil.
Washington is seeking a new resolution giving the UN a broader mandate in Iraq and encouraging reluctant allies to provide more troops and cash to police and rebuild Iraq.
US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair face mounting political pressure over the failure to find any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq.
David Kay, the CIA official directing the weapons search in Iraq, was scheduled to brief the House and Senate intelligence committees. Officials suggest Kay will say no conclusive evidence has been found of weapons of mass destruction.
Efforts in New York to agree a wider role for the UN are in stark contrast to events on the ground in Baghdad, where many international UN staff have been pulled out after suicide bomb attacks on their headquarters.