Ten Iraqi security personnel, Jordanian guard killed by US fire
2 hours, 10 minutes ago
FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) - Ten Iraqi security personnel and a Jordanian guard were killed by US "friendly fire" here early Friday as this flashpoint Sunni region erupted into a frenzy of violence for the second time in as many days.
Two American soldiers were killed and 11 wounded in other attacks Friday in the region west of Baghdad where two Iraqis also died, and a third was hurt after his car failed to stop at a US checkpoint late Thursday.
And a move by US forces to crack down on unauthorized armed patrols by Iraqi militia in the central Shiite holy city of Najaf appeared to pass its first major test at weekly prayers.
No armed militia were seen on the streets of Najaf, but only a few security guards, some police and Polish troops.
The Iraqi dead in Fallujah were all members of the auxiliary Facilities Protection Services, while five Iraqi policemen were injured.
The 15 had given chase in two vehicles after gunmen in a BMW opened fire on the governorate headquarters in the town centre, district patrol chief Lieutenant Colonel Jalal Sabri said.
When they reached the Jordanian Red Crescent hospital to the north of the town, they ran into US soldiers who opened fire on them, he said.
Hospital staff said several of the US rounds had hit the hospital, where a Jordanian guard died.
Angry crowds of Fallujah residents gathered outside both the governorate and police headquarters to protest the deaths. They came just two days after US troops killed one Iraqi policeman and wounded another following a roadside bombing on the outskirts of this Sunni Muslim bastion 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad.
The US military later said that two US soldiers had been killed and seven wounded in a pre-dawn firefight after a raid on the hotspot western Iraqi town of Ramadi 110 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad.
Separately, an American soldier was killed and two others were wounded when the tire of a two-ton truck exploded as they were changing it in Baghdad, a US military spokesman said Friday.
An Iraqi civilian was killed and another wounded Friday by US gunfire in the northern oil center of Kirkuk after an American position came under attack by mortar fire and rocket-propelled grenades, medical officials there said.
On the economic front, the planning minister in the Iraqi interim cabinet said the so-called "Swiss Dinar" currently in use in Kurdish regions in northern Iraq would return to the market across the country in mid-October.
"As of mid-October, the Swiss Dinar will replace the New Iraqi Dinar, which carries the picture of (ousted president) Saddam Hussein," Mahdi al-Hafez told AFP.
Top US civil administrator Paul Bremer announced in July that new banknotes would be introduced from October 15 to replace the New Iraqi Dinar in use since 1991 when UN sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait the previous year forced Baghdad to rely on domestic firms to print money.
On the diplomatic front, the United States was preparing to lobby fellow permanent Security Council members to approve a reinforced UN role in Iraq that would simultaneously maintain its control of the country.
Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to meet in Geneva on Saturday with counterparts from Britain, China, France and Russia, as well as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Although he can count on the support of London, Washington's closest ally in the war that ousted Saddam, he will face stiff opposition from France and Russia.
Backed by China, Paris and Moscow have tabled amendments to a draft resolution from Washington that would water down US prerogatives and shift much of their say in Iraq to the United Nations.
Powell told Germany's ARD public television on Friday that he did not expect German troops to take part in any future multinational force in Iraq but was satisfied that Berlin was playing its role.
"I'm not expecting any German troops," Powell said. "Germany is playing its role. We fully understand the German government's position."
India has said it will not send troops to Iraq even if the United Nations agreed to mandate multinational peacekeeping operations in the war-torn country.
Quoting top government sources, newspapers said New Delhi is now claiming it cannot spare any of its million-strong army for peacekeeping operations due to security threats within the country and on its borders.
However, the reports said the real reason was that national elections are due by October 2004, and the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party believes it would be politically disastrous if any Indian soldier died in Iraq.
Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair was meanwhile under pressure at home to explain why he ignored warnings from British intelligence that a war on Iraq would make it easier for terrorists to get hold of weapons of mass destruction.
The revelation came out of a 57-page report by the Intelligence and Security Committee, a cross-party parliamentary panel that oversees the work of Britain's three main intelligence agencies.
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