Baghdad, Nov. 10 (Reuters): Iraq’s US governor Paul Bremer predicted today local and foreign fighters would step up violence to stop reconstruction, and a weekend grenade attack killed another US soldier south of Baghdad.
Bremer told Britain’s Times newspaper US-led occupation forces would not be driven out of Iraq because the price of failure was too high for the country and for West Asia.
“We’re going to have increased attacks and increased terrorism because the terrorists can see the reconstruction dynamic is moving in our direction,” Bremer said.
“It will be more of a problem in the months ahead unless the intelligence gets better,” he added, saying hundreds of fighters from Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia had entered Iraq.
In the latest attack on the oil sector vital to Iraq’s reconstruction, three gunmen opened fire on an oil company executive’s car, wounding him in the leg and killing his son. The attempt to kill Mohammed al-Zibari, an executive responsible for oil distribution in a state-owned company, took place today in the northern city of Mosul, police said. The incident was believed to be the first assassination attempt on an Iraqi oil firm manager. Attacks on the oil industry have largely focused on attempts to sabotage the main oil export pipeline to Turkey.
A top oil ministry official said officials had now abandoned plans to reopen the line until an Iraqi force can secure it. “Technically the line could be operated right now but we decided to wait until we put together an Iraqi protective force to guard it,” he said, without giving a timeframe.
In the latest lethal attack on US forces, a military policeman was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade yesterday west of Iskandariya, about 50 km south of Baghdad.
The US has now lost 151 soldiers killed in action since it declared major combat in Iraq over on May 1. Washington blames the attacks on Saddam Hussein supporters and foreign fighters, including al Qaida members. Difficulties in Iraq could also undermine US President George W. Bush’s prospects for re-election next year.
US forces faced anger from Iraqis on two fronts, with some shocked at an air bombing raid in the restive town of Falluja and others denouncing US soldiers over the killing of the mayor of the vast Sadr City district of Baghdad yesterday.
US forces said they had killed a man in Sadr city after he fought with a soldier and tried to take his gun. They declined to identify the man but local people said he was Muhanad Ghazi al-Kabi, the head of a US-backed interim district council.