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Two U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Attacks

Two U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Attacks

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Two more U.S. soldiers were killed in combat Wednesday, and the international relief agency Oxfam said it pulled its foreign staff out of Iraq because of the increasing danger.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank pulled workers from Iraq last week following the suicide truck bombing at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 23 people and wounded more than 100. Many U.N. foreign staff also have left the country temporarily.

Violence in Iraq, particularly in and around Baghdad, has taken its toll on Iraqis as well, with a spree of carjackings and robberies reported by the population.

"The risk level was becoming unacceptable for us, making it impossible for our programs to operate," Simon Springett, Oxfam's program manager for Iraq, told The Associated Press from Amman, Jordan.

The London-based Oxfam, which had been working on water and sanitation projects with UNICEF, said it began withdrawing its 15 international staff members Monday and completed the move within 48 hours. Springett cited last week's bombing as only one of the factors.

"I think there's been a blurring of humanitarian and military operations in Iraq," Springett said. "It's setting a very dangerous precedent."

Springett said he had spoken to several other aid groups that were reviewing their security.

In the latest U.S. deaths, a soldier was killed and three were wounded in a roadside bombing in Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad. The soldier was from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the military said, providing no other details.

A second soldier was killed in another attack on a military convoy in Baghdad. The dead soldier from the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, the military said.

A third soldier was reported to have died of a non-hostile gunshot wound in a separate incident.

The deaths brought to 281 the number of soldiers killed since the war began on March 20. Since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1, 143 U.S. soldiers have died -- five more than during the heavy fighting.

As the U.S. death toll climbed, Bush said the United States would not back down in Iraq.

"We're on the offensive against terror, and we will stay on the offensive against terror," Bush told veterans in St. Louis Tuesday.

"We've adopted a new strategy for a new kind of war: We will not wait for known enemies to strike us again," he said. "We will strike them."

Meanwhile, L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. occupation coordinator, told The Washington Post that "several tens of billions" of dollars from abroad would be needed to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and economy in the next year.

Just to meet current electrical demand will cost $2 billion, while a national system to deliver clean water would cost an estimated $16 billion over four years, Bremer said in an interview published Wednesday.

In northern Iraq U.S. troops continued raids against paramilitary forces, Saddam Hussein loyalists, Fedayeen Saddam militia and other subversive elements as part of "Operation Ivy Needle."

The operation, announced a day earlier, had been going on for two weeks, and included 55 raids that led to the capture of 390 Iraqis, 57 of whom were targeted as Saddam loyalists, Baath party members, and militia, according to 4th Infantry Division spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle.

U.S. officials began putting up new wanted posters throughout Iraq that carry the faces of Saddam and his sons, Odai and Qusai. The sons' faces are marked with an "X," a reminder that they were killed by American forces and that a reward of $30 million was paid to the informant who turned in the brothers.

The posters say a $25 million reward for Saddam still stands, as does a $10,000 reward for significant information on other wanted men from the former regime.

In other violence, an Iraqi was killed Wednesday and two U.S. soldiers were wounded after a roadside bomb was detonated outside Baqouba, 42 miles north of Baghdad, the 4th Infantry's Maj. Paul Owen said.

U.S. troops killed one Iraqi on Wednesday near Tikrit, 120 miles north of Baghdad, after three men shot at their patrol. The patrol returned fire and there were no U.S. casualties, Aberle said.

A U.S. Army convoy reported encountering a man with a child who appeared to have a bomb strapped to its body near Tuz Kharmato, 110 miles north of Baghdad, she said. The convoy detoured to avoid the child, Aberle said.

In central Baghdad's Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves Square, two Iraqi policemen and three civilians were killed in a shootout with criminals, a police official at the scene told an Associated Press television crew.

Also Wednesday, a military court hearing began for four U.S. soldiers accused of abusing prisoners of war at a camp in southern Iraq. The hearing on whether to press charges took place at Camp Bucca near the port city of Umm Qasr.

The four Army reservists from the 320th Military Police Battalion are accused of punching and kicking several Iraqis, breaking one man's nose, while escorting prisoners to a POW processing center in May. The soldiers claim they acted in self-defense.

Military officials have declined to name the reservists, but family members identified them as Staff Sgt. Scott McKenzie, 37; Sgt. Shawna Edmondson, 24; Spc. Tim Canjar, 21; and Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, 35.

In Baghdad's al-Bayaa neighborhood, the U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi officials marked the opening of a firehouse after renovation by the Americans -- one of 11 damaged in postwar looting that the coalition is repairing.

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

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