06/17 - Sniper kills U.S. soldier in Baghdad - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

06/17 - Sniper kills U.S. soldier in Baghdad

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Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003 9:38 am | Updated: 1:15 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. troops intent on crushing resistance pushed ahead Tuesday with sweeps that have grabbed more than 400 people, while the American military reported that a sniper had gunned down one of its soldiers in Baghdad with a single shot in his back.

In London, two former Cabinet ministers charged that their government had selectively used intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify war. Also, a British newspaper cited a senior military official as saying coalition forces still had to prove to Iraqis that Saddam Hussein's regime was dead.

Unrest and pockets of anti-coalition hostility continued in Iraq on Tuesday, with drive-by shootings against Iraqi officials - apparently aimed at discouraging cooperation with the Americans.

In Fallujah, 55 kilometers (35 miles) west of Baghdad, suspected anti-American insurgents fired shots into the mayor's office and the courthouse. In the nearby town of Khaldiyah, more shots were fired into a police station overnight Tuesday. No injuries were reported.

"There is an element of society here that doesn't want change and they see the coalition forces as bringing change in the form of freedom and democracy," said Col. David Perkins, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade.

The U.S. military entered its third day of a nationwide sweep dubbed Operation Desert Scorpion that aims to arrest anti-American insurgents and find heavy weapons.

Military officials announced that U.S. troops had detained 412 people and conducted 69 raids during the three days of sweeps in Baghdad and northern Iraq.

The sniper killing occurred late Monday when an American soldier was shot in the back as he rode in the back seat of a Humvee, said Lt. Alex Kasarda, the brigade's public affairs officer. The gunman escaped.

At the time of the shooting, dozens of members of the soldier's brigade were involved in a raid on a cafe and religious school.

About 50 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since major combat operations were declared over on May 1, either by hostile fire or in accidents.

At the start of a British parliamentary inquiry, former House of Commons leader Robin Cook and former International Development Secretary Clare Short - both of whom quit the Cabinet over Iraq - said they had been told by security sources before the war that Saddam's weapons did not pose an immediate threat.

Cook said he feared Prime Minister Tony Blair's government had used intelligence about Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs "to justify a policy on which we had already settled."

Cook said he doubted whether investigators would find evidence of substantial chemical and biological arms programs in Iraq.

"It is inconceivable that both could have been kept concealed for the two months we have been in occupation of Iraq," Cook said.

Also Tuesday, the Times of London quoted Maj. Gen. Freddy Viggers - British commander at the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad - as saying: "I think it is quite understandable that there are people out there who, until they have absolute and incontrovertible evidence that Saddam Hussein is dead, will worry about (his possible return)."

Meanwhile, Southeast Asian countries argued that the United Nations should have a central role in the reconstruction and development in Iraq.

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian said at the end of a two-day meeting in Cambodia that any effort must respect the "sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and security of Iraq."

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