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Iraqi Guerrillas Launch Fresh Attacks

Iraqi Guerrillas Launch Fresh Attacks

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi insurgents killed an American soldier in a roadside bombing in Baghdad on Tuesday, and Spain said it was withdrawing much of its diplomatic staff from Iraq for security reasons, the third coalition country to do so in the past two weeks amid mounting violence.

The Spanish Embassy will remain open but with minimal staffing and a significant number of its 29-member staff is being pulled out, a Foreign Ministry official said.

"We have taken staff out of Baghdad temporarily given that it is a very complicated moment," Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio was quoted as saying by the Spanish news agency Europa Press. She did not say exactly how many diplomats were being withdrawn.

In late October, Bulgaria and the Netherlands moved Embassy staff in Iraq to Jordan, both citing safety concerns following a attacks on diplomatic and humanitarian agencies -- including deadly bombings at the Turkish Embassy and the U.N. headquarters.

In Baghdad, the roadside bombing killed one soldier and wounded two others, all from the 1st Armored Division, the U.S. command said. Another soldier was killed Monday and one other wounded when their vehicle struck a land mine in Tikrit.

The deaths brought the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq in November to 23, most in the weekend crash of a transport helicopter shot down Sunday west of Baghdad.

The roadside bombing followed a brief mortar barrage in which at least three projectiles detonated about Monday evening in central Baghdad, causing no damage or casualties, U.S. officials said.

One hit a U.S. Army camp of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the officials said.

In the northern city of Mosul, insurgents using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades Tuesday attacked a hotel housing American troops but caused no casualties, the military said. Three of the grenades hit the building and two others landed in the compound.

A police station in Mosul was also struck overnight by a rocket-propelled grenade, the military said Tuesday. There were no casualties.

Insurgents ambushed a U.S. patrol Tuesday with RPGs in the city of Khaldiyah, located west of Baghdad in the volatile "Sunni Triangle," witnesses said. There were no reports of casualties.

U.S. troops, meanwhile, raided the village of Karasia near Tikrit late Monday, seizing two suspects, Kalashnikov rifles, 14 mortar rounds, a mortar tube, and rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, the military said.

The recent, bold attacks -- including Sunday's downing of a Chinook that killed 16 Americans and wounded 20 -- represent a major escalation in the campaign by a shadowy group of insurgents fighting to drive occupation forces out of Iraq. They also illustrated the vulnerability of American lines of communication to guerrilla ambushes and roadside bombings.

Until now, the U.S. military has believed that helicopters and transport planes provided a relatively safe mode of transport for ferrying troops and supplies around the country. That has been called into question by Sunday's attack on the helicopter.

The Spanish withdrawal comes after a Spanish navy captain was killed in the truck bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19, and a Spanish sergeant working for that nation's military intelligence was assassinated Baghdad on Oct. 9. Security at the Spanish embassy had been stepped up in recent weeks.

After months of attacks and ambushes on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, insurgents have begun targeting diplomatic and humanitarian facilities -- mainly with vehicle bombs and suicide attackers. The Oct. 14 explosion outside the Turkish Embassy killed a bystander. A day before the Dutch announced their diplomats were leaving, four suicide bombings hit the International Red Cross headquarters and four Iraqi police stations in Baghdad, killing 40 people, mostly Iraqis.

Spain has about 1,300 soldiers based in Iraq and was one of the strongest supporters of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq despite massive public opposition at home.

The downing of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, which was carrying dozens of American soldiers on leave, was the largest U.S. death toll in any single action since the invasion of Iraq began March 20.

Sixteen of the 20 injured were flown Monday to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and treated at the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Nine were admitted to the intensive care unit, including five in serious condition, said hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw.

Also in Baghdad, Iraq's Central Criminal Court Tuesday convicted Abu Haydar Abdul Mun'im, the former governor of the holy Shiite Muslim city of Najaf, and sentenced him to 14 years in prison for corruption, misuse of government property and kidnapping.

Mun'im was appointed governor by the U.S. forces soon after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in April. He was arrested on June 30 at the request of an Iraqi investigative judge.

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

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