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U.S.-Trained Cadets Killed in Iraq

U.S.-Trained Cadets Killed in Iraq

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RAMADI, Iraq (AP) -- A bomb blast turned a parade of U.S.-trained police cadets into a deadly zone Saturday, killing seven and injuring dozens in an attack U.S. officials blamed on insurgents targeting Iraqis who work with Americans.

As mosque loudspeakers in the western city of Ramadi wailed for blood donations for the wounded, angry Iraqis said the victims had been told that collaborating with the Americans would come to no good.

The top U.S. official in Iraq said "desperate men" were leading the anti-American attacks in a campaign blamed on loyalists of the ousted Saddam Hussein.

"Those who refuse to embrace the new Iraq are clearly panicking, they are turning their sights on Iraqis themselves," L. Paul Bremer said. "Today they have killed innocent Iraqis with the same disdain toward their own people they showed for 35 years."

A British television journalist also was shot and killed outside the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad on Saturday in another sign of unrest.

In northern Iraq, U.S. troops raided a Turkish special forces office and detained 11 soldiers, further straining U.S.-Turkey diplomatic ties. A Turkish newspaper reported the men were detained after rumors that they were plotting to kill a senior Iraqi official in Kirkuk, 175 miles north of Baghdad.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the detentions an "ugly incident" and demanded the soldiers' release. The United States was responding, releasing some of the soldiers by Saturday evening, but not all, Erdogan said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell called Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to advise him that a total of 24 detainees, including the Turkish soldiers, were taken to Baghdad, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reported. Powell also confirmed that some of the detainees had been released, without giving any numbers, Anatolia added.

The State Department confirmed that Powell called Gul but provided no details.

Aside from the Turkish soldiers, U.S. troops also detained security guards and staff working at the office, reports said.

Anatolia said Gul told Powell that the issue could harm bilateral relations, stressing that the Turkish public opinion was "sensitive" to the issue.

In Ramadi, the graduating police were marching from a boys school where they underwent five days of training to a nearby government building when a massive blast tore into them, said Mahmoud Hamad, a 23-year-old survivor. Hamad suffered wounds to his right arm and leg. Ramadi is 60 miles west of Baghdad.

"That is what you get for working with the Americans," said one elderly Iraqi, shouting in the corridor of the emergency ward of a hospital where victims were brought. "They have all been warned before."

The U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which oversees Ramadi, reported seven people killed and 40 more wounded. None of the casualties were Americans, regiment spokesman Capt. Michael Calvert said.

"These were new recruits that had just finished joint training with us," Calvert said.

Even as they step up their ambushes on U.S. troops, Iraqi insurgents have begun targeting the security services and civilian infrastructure U.S. forces are trying to rebuild, such as police forces, oil pipelines and Baghdad's electricity grid.

Ramadi, one of several Sunni-majority towns along the Euphrates River west of Baghdad, was a stronghold of support for Saddam, and has been the site of frequent attacks that have killed Americans as well as Iraqis.

The attackers seem to be growing bolder. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has lost around 10 of its soldiers to postwar ambushes, is headquartered in a former presidential palace in Ramadi that sports Arabic graffiti on its entry wall: "Saddam's return is better than Bush's freedom."

The Ramadi blast came from a TNT-filled bag of rice that was detonated by remote control, said Maj. Anthony Aguto. He said U.S. soldiers planned to question Ramadi residents Saturday night in hopes of finding information on the bombers.

Calvert said the explosion was "not the result of any coalition actions or accidents."

But in Ramadi, victims and their families laid the blame on the United States.

"The Americans have done it. Who else would do a thing like this?" said police instructor Abdel-Karim Hamadi, speaking at the bedside of an injured cadet at Ramadi General Hospital.

Young men responding to the call for blood donations rushed into the hospital's surgery ward with nylon bags carrying their own blood. Squatting on hospital floors, women in black chadors beat their heads in anguish, many sobbing and screaming.

Dr. Irfan Abdul Razzak put the toll of injured at 54. The hospital's entire emergency ward was covered in blood, and victims filled the corridors waiting for treatment.

Also Saturday, the human rights group Amnesty International issued a report lambasting the United States and Britain for failing to bring Iraq's postwar lawlessness under control. The report said "millions of Iraqi men, women and children are paying a terrible price" for the failure to control rampant crime, and demanded urgent action.

The U.S.-led provisional government says it is working hard to restore order and rebuild Iraq, with the program to train Ramadi's police force part of those efforts.

The explosion came a day after the release of an audiotape purportedly from Saddam that has threatened to energize anti-U.S. forces and deepen the ongoing insurgency. In the tape, the speaker urges Iraqis not to cooperate with American "infidels" and says new cells have been formed to carry out attacks.

In the case of the detained Turkish soldiers, about 100 U.S. troops staged the raid in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah on Friday, a Turkish government official said. The soldiers were taken to Kirkuk.

Officials at the Habur border gate, the sole crossing point for aid and goods between Turkey and Iraq, said Saturday the gate had been closed. Private Turkish NTV television and other news reports said the move was in retaliation for the soldiers' detention.

The incident further strained relations between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, which are already at a low over the Turkish parliament's refusal in March to allow thousands of U.S. combat troops in the country for an Iraq war.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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