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Soldier Killed as U.S. Steps Up Military Operations

Soldier Killed as U.S. Steps Up Military Operations

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A U.S. military policeman died in ongoing attacks on coalition troops and their allies, the U.S. command said Monday, as the Army intensified operations to root out the growing insurgency.

In Sadr City, a poor, mainly Shiite quarter of eastern Baghdad, witnesses Monday said that a U.S. soldier shot and killed the head of the district's U.S.-appointed municipal council in a weekend altercation.

In the town of Iskandariyah, 40 miles, south of Baghdad, guerrillas attacked a patrol with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing a military policeman, a statement said.

The death brought to 37 the number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq this month. The downing last week of the Chinook and the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter made the first week of November the bloodiest for American forces since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1.

On Sunday, a senior Iraqi official warned that mounting violence may delay steps toward a new constitution, considered a major condition for returning the country to full Iraqi rule. And soldiers arrested 18 people in a deadly missile barrage last month that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz escaped, officials said.

L. Paul Bremer, the coalition's chief administrator in Iraq, warned that the coalition could expect intensified attacks in coming months.

"We're going to have increased attacks and increased terrorism because the terrorist can see the reconstruction dynamic is moving in our direction," Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, was quoted as saying in The Times newspaper of London.

"It will be more of a problem in the months ahead unless the intelligence gets better," The Times quoted him as saying

In Sadr City, the head of the municipal council, Muhanad al-Kaadi, was shot Sunday after an argument with a U.S. sentry posted at the entrance to the municipal building.

The guard apparently did not recognize al-Kaadi when he tried to enter the building, said Ahmed Hanoun, a resident of the township who said he had been waiting outside the gate to apply for a job when the incident occurred.

A military spokesman said the shooting Sunday occurred when a car was prevented from entering the building's courtyard. The driver -- who was not identified -- got out of the vehicle and attacked one of the guards, trying to grab his weapon. Another soldier shot the man in the leg and he later died of his wounds, the statement said.

U.S. authorities hand-picked members of the council soon after the fall of Baghdad. The area's two million Shiites, who were subjected to severe persecution by Saddam Hussein's secret police, welcomed the U.S. troops as liberators.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces intensified anti-insurgency operations west and north of Baghdad, areas which are seen as hotbeds of the anti-American revolt and where most of the coalition deaths occurred.

As part of the new tactic, F-16 jets dropped three 500-pound bombs in the Tikrit area and blasted at least three buildings early Saturday after the Black Hawk crashed -- apparently due to hostile fire.

Late Saturday, F-16s dropped three more bombs in the Fallujah area after a series of ambushes wounded three paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, the military said.

Lt. Col. George Krivo said there was a "new focus" in the north and west of Baghdad to find areas where Saddam loyalists "and other noncompliant forces are operating."

"We have picked up the intensity of our offensive operations and this is specifically manifested with the larger numbers of troops in the 82nd Airborne and other forces to the west," Krivo said, without giving details on the numbers of troops.

"We are on offensive operations," a U.S. officer said on condition of anonymity. "You can expect to see an increase in the level of intensity and the amount of activity that is occurring, especially in those `challenging' areas."

"Part of warfare is coercion and affecting the hearts and minds of the enemy and certainly a show of force is a tool that can be used by commander," the official said.

Also Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that there were clashes in northern Iraq involving U.S. troops and Turkish Kurdish rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK.

"There were clashes yesterday," Gul said. "Not only with the United States but also between (Iraqi Kurdish fighters) and the PKK. Some American helicopters were sent."

The U.S. military information office in Baghdad said it could not confirm the report.

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

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