U.S. military says 24 Iraqi police killed in insurgent ambush

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 27 October 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Intense house-to-house fighting between insurgents and Iraqi
police north of Baghdad killed 43 people, including 24 officers, the U.S.
military said Friday. U.S. troops later joined the fight, aiding in a
counterattack that left 18 insurgents dead, the military said.

An unknown number of "anti-Iraqi forces" ambushed a police unit based in
Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad at about 6:30 a.m.
(0330 GMT) on Thursday the military said, using its standard term for Sunni

Police fought back and U.S. troops nearby were diverted from another
mission, assisted by air cover. One Iraqi civilian was also killed, eight
insurgents wounded, and 27 others captured, the military said.

The attack marked some of the heaviest fighting in recent days between
insurgents and Iraqi security forces, who U.S. commanders have been pressing
to take over more responsibility for security, thereby allowing them to
begin contemplating U.S. troop withdrawls.

With rising U.S. casualties adding to growing anti-war sentiment, U.S.
leaders are eager to show that the Iraqi forces are rising to the challenge
by controlling territory and inflicting casualties on their enemies.

Iraq's Interior Ministry, which commands the police, gave a slightly
different versions of the clash and said those killed included Khan Bani
Saad's police chief, Brig. Abbas Al-Ameri, and his brother.

A ministry spokesman, Brig. Abdel-Karim Khalaf, said forces moved into the
area after learned of the presence of insurgents who were behind the ambush
on Monday of a convoy of buses carrying police recruits in which at least 15
were killed 25 wounded.

"After we received information that these criminals had a presence ... we
mobilized our forces and attacked the area," Khalf said. "We cannot tolerate
this and that is the reason why we took action yesterday," he said.

Khalf denied police had been surprised and put the death toll among officers
at 12, with 19 insurgents killed and 28 captured. He described the enemy
fighters as hardcore remnants of Saddam Hussein's former Baathist regime
joined by "Takfiri elements" a term for Islamic radicals that include groups
such as al-Qaida in Iraq.

The area around Baqouba has seen heavy fighting in recent weeks between
armed Shiite and Sunni groups carrying out brutal revenge killings. A Shiite
militia went on a rampage in the nearby city of Balad last week, killing
scores of Sunnis and forcing others to flee their homes.

Also on Friday, four people were killed and five wounded in an attack on a
van carrying Shiites returning from the funeral of a relative in the holy
city of Najaf, said a spokesman for the police force in surrounding Diyala

The gunmen drove up in two cars and sprayed the van with bullets about 20
kilometers east of Baqouba at 11:00 a.m. (0800 GMT), said the spokesman,
speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with police security

Fearing similar bloodshed, authorities enforced a vehicle ban in the
embattled Mosul on Friday following threats from Sunni gunmen who
distributed leaflets at mosques on Thursday proclaiming the mixed
Sunni-Kurdish city a part of an Islamic state declared earlier this month by
an insurgent umbrella group, the Mujahedeen Shura Council.

While the insurgent's declaration has been viewed primarily as a propaganda
move, fighters aligned with the Shura Council have been suspected in recent
deadly attacks in Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad.
The city is a battleground between Sunni Arabs relocated there by the former
regime and members of the Kurdish minority native to the region.

American troop deaths hit their highest monthly total in a year on Thursday
with the announcement of five more deaths, a Navy sailor and four Marines.
All were killed Wednesday in volatile Anbar province, west of Baghdad, where
Sunni insurgents have inflicted fully more than one-third of the 2,809 U.S.
military deaths since the March, 2003 invasion of Iraq.

At least 96 U.S. troops have died so far this month, equaling the level for
the whole of October 2005 _ a factor in growing calls for U.S. President
George W. Bush to change strategy in Iraq. There have been only three months
in which more U.S. forces died in Iraq: 107 in January 2005; at least 135 in
April 2004, and 137 in November 2004.

U.S. officials have linked October's higher death toll to a historical spike
in violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, additional U.S.
military vulnerability because of the security drive in Baghdad and the
coming American midterm elections.

U.S. forces were continuing to search for a missing soldier, an Iraqi-born
linguist abducted while visiting relatives on Monday. Additional checkpoints
and troops on the streets has been credited with possibly helping reduce
violence since the end of Ramadan.