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U.S. general says attacks against American troops have increased

Updated:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Attacks against U.S. troops have increased following a call earlier this month from al-Qaida in Iraq's leader to target American forces, the top U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell also that Iraqi and American troops were expecting violence to increase during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week.

The attacks against U.S. troops were mostly carried out by suicide car bombers or roadside bombs. He added that the number of killings by death squads also had increased in the past week.

The military said a U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday by small arms fire in northeastern Baghdad and that another American soldier was killed by a roadside blast northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday.

The news came after the U.S. military announced the deaths of four other soldiers in Iraq.

One was killed Tuesday by a suicide car bombing, which also wounded two other soldiers. Another two soldiers were killed Sunday _ one by small arms fire and the other by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. A fourth soldier, assigned to a medical task force, died Monday of non-combat related injuries in the capital.

The rise in attacks against American forces came after a threat issued Sept. 7 by Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer.

``The fire in our blood will never cool, and the swords that have been colored with your blood are still thirsty for more of your rotten heads,'' al-Masri said on the 20-minute tape, addressing the Americans and their allies.

In other violence Wednesday, a suicide car bomber killed 10 people and wounded 38 in Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, in an attack against the house of a tribal leader, police said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad told The Associated Press that more Iraqi troops were needed to quell the violence of the militias in the capital, which he described as the biggest threat to the country's future.

``I would like to see more Iraqi forces. We are pushing that very hard,'' said Maj. Gen. James Thurman, commander of Multinational Division Baghdad, as he visited Iraqi soldiers leading searches through homes in the Mansour neighborhood of the capital.

Despite the recent addition of one of the best-equipped U.S. brigades to the capital, Thurman said he asked that more Iraqi troops be stationed in Baghdad. There are two Iraqi divisions based in the capital, although U.S. trainers have said neither are staffed to capacity.

It was a particularly deadly two-day period, with more than 60 killings throughout the country, including a suicide truck bombing at an Iraqi police office in Baghdad that killed at least seven people.

The truck bomb attack in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora happened as policemen were coming on duty, said Capt. Jamil Hussein. At least 14 others were injured, and he said the number of casualties was expected to rise.

Police in Mosul confirmed that tandem bombings killed 21 people near the northern city and wounded 50 others.

Also Wednesday, a civilian was killed and two more wounded in east Baghdad in a roadside bombing targeting a U.S. convoy just before noon, police Capt. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani said. There were no immediate reports of American injuries.

Another roadside bomb targeting a patrol in the capital's al-Khadhra suburb wounded a policeman and two civilians, police said.

A parked car bomb detonated near an Iraqi army base in Sharqat, about 45 miles south of Mosul, on Tuesday night, and a suicide bomber detonated his explosives as a crowd gathered at the scene of the first bombing, police said.

Another policeman was killed when a mortar round landed near a patrol in northern Baghdad, police Lt. Bilal Majid said. Two civilians were also wounded in the attack in the Waziriya neighborhood, Majid said.

Attacks on Tuesday killed at least 16 Iraqis, including 10 in a rocket attack on a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. At least 55 others were injured in the attacks around the country.

The mutilated body of a policeman was brought to the morgue in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, after being found in the al-Falahiya district east of the city.

The body of Mahmoud Hassan Mohammed was found blindfolded with his arms and legs cuffed, and he was shot in various place and showed signs of torture, morgue official Mamoun Ajeel Al-Rubai'ey said.

The body of an unknown civilian in a similar condition also was brought to the morgue after being recovered from the Tigris River about 30 miles south of Baghdad, Al-Rubai'ey said.

Nearly 200 bodies of Iraqis who had been tortured and shot have turned up around Baghdad in the past week, including three found Tuesday in an eastern section of the capital.

Most are found bound and blindfolded, apparent victims of sectarian violence. Both Shiite and Sunni lawmakers called Tuesday for the defense and interior ministers to take steps to stop the death squads.

Another 12 civilians were injured in a series of three roadside bombings aimed at police patrols Wednesday in the Hillah area, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, police Lt. Osama Ahmed said. No police were reported injured.
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