US soldier killed in Iraq rocket attack; Iraqi shot by US troops

Mon, Sep 15, 2003

BAGHDAD (AFP) - One US soldier was killed when his unit on patrol in Baghdad was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

US military spokesman Anthony Reinoso said the soldier from the 1st Armoured Division was fatally wounded in the attack at 1:10 am (2110 GMT Sunday).

"He was evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital and subsequently died," Reinoso said Monday.

He added that the name of the soldier had been withheld pending notification of his family.

No further details were immediately available but the death came amid a report that an Iraqi civilian, Sami Hassan Saref, had died after being shot by US forces who were attempting to enter his house.

Ahmad Mansur Karim, a shopkeeper in Mikdadya, 45 kilometres (27 miles) west of Baquba, said US troops were conducting an operation and had begun to search Saref's house at about 1:30 am Monday (2130 GMT Sunday).

But Karim, 37, said Seref mistook the US troops for thieves, pulled out a rifle and was shot.

He said US troops immediately took 35-year-old Saref to hospital near Baquba, 66 kilometres (40 miles) north-east of Baghdad, where he later died from his wounds.

The latest attack takes to 76 the number of US troops killed in action by forces loyal to ousted president Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) or foreign militants since May 1, when US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) declared an end to major combat operations.

Six soldiers have died in the past week, when a series of attacks ended an unusually quiet spell for occupation forces in Iraq (news - web sites). Another 98 troops have died through accidents or in non-combat related deaths.

It was also the second US troop fatality since US Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) flew into Iraq on Sunday via Kuwait from Geneva, where emergency UN talks failed to resolve key issues over Iraq's future.

Powell Monday travelled to the Kurdish town of Halabja on the second day of his trip to US-occupied Iraq marked by a warning that terrorists threatened to ruin the Iraqi political process.

"The major new threat are the terrorists who are trying to infiltrate the country for the purpose of destroying this very hopeful process," he said. "We will not allow that to happen," Powell said in Baghdad.

The secretary of state was later Monday due to meet a delegation of 600 relatives of those massacred in the 1988 gas attack ordered by Saddam, attend the unveiling of a memorial to the tragedy and visit a mass grave.

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