Published on Tuesday, August, 12, 2003 by the Associated Press
Flames Shooting From Iraqi Oil Pipeline
by Sameer N. Yacoub
TAJI, Iraq - Flames shot 200 feet into the air from a burst oil pipeline north of Baghdad on Tuesday, and U.S. forces fired warning shots to keep people from the scene. A U.S. soldier was killed when roadside bombs blasted an American convoy west of the capital.
Two M-1 Abrams tanks and three soldiers crouched in firing positions ordered a fire truck to stay back from the blaze.
"They were very hostile," said fire department Lt. Hasannein Mohammed.
Before the war, U.N. weapons inspectors were in the area almost daily.
Military spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said there was a pipeline fire but had no further details.
It could not immediately be determined if the fire was the work of saboteurs, but many pipelines throughout the oil-rich nation have been hit by guerrillas seeking to destabilize U.S. efforts to pacify Iraq.
The U.S. soldier killed Tuesday morning was riding in a Humvee in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. A military spokesman said the soldier's convoy was hit by three roadside bombs wired to exploded one after another. Two soldiers were wounded.
A soldier died in his sleep at a U.S. base in Ramadi and his body was discovered in his bunk at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. In Mosul, in the far north of the country, the military reported a soldier died when his Humvee collided with a taxi.
On Monday, Iraq's interim government announced plans to reopen Basra airport by the end of the month and has already authorized planned flights by at least six foreign carriers.
Elsewhere, guerrillas wounded three American soldiers in northern Iraq on Monday, and a U.S. raid on a remote village near the Iranian border failed to capture a top fugitive suspected of plotting attacks on coalition forces.
Monday's raid in Ain Lalin, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad had sought a former member of Saddam Hussein's regime on the U.S. list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Young said. He said 70 suspects were taken into custody.
International commercial flights to and from Iraq have been suspended since the 1991 Gulf War. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, current president of the U.S.-picked Governing Council, said Monday the resumption of commercial flights would be "a big step forward to opening Iraq to the world."
Al-Jaafari, serving as council president during August, also said the appointment of Cabinet ministers has been postponed by three weeks. He said a 25-member committee has been formed to look into how to proceed with selecting a constitutional assembly. The members include judges, academicians and lawyers and reflects Iraq's ethnic and religious groups.
During the 12 years of United Nations sanctions, only Royal Jordanian had been flying to Baghdad with U.N. approval.
U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer had said he hoped to get both Baghdad and Basra airports reopened by mid-September, and predicted last week that Basra would be secured and operational before the Baghdad International Airport. The Baghdad airport has seen at least three failed surface-to-air missile attacks on military flights since U.S. forces took control of the capital April 9.
In Sweden, Scandinavian Airlines System said Tuesday it hoped to resume at least two flights a week to Basra, Iraq's second largest city.
SAS, the joint carrier of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, sought permission from the U.S.-backed civilian administration overseeing Iraq earlier this year to resume the flights. The Iraqi Governing Council said it approved the application.
Lennart Svantemark, an SAS vice president, told The Associated Press the start of service depended on "the security situation" in the southern Iraqi city.
"We have said in our application that security is a requisite for us to do start flying," he said.
Al-Jaafari said other carriers include Gulf Air owned by Bahrain, Oman and Abu Dhabi Royal Jordanian, Emirates, Qatar Airways and the Polish flag carrier LOT.
In central Baghdad, two grenades were thrown from a car at a U.S. military checkpoint; soldiers returned fire, killing one Iraqi, witnesses said.
In al-Shumayt, north of Tikrit, guerrillas fired rocket-propelled grenades and detonated at least one homemade bomb, wounding three American soldiers, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald said. All were in stable condition, he said.
© Copyright 2003 The Asscociated Press