BALAD, Iraq – U.S. troops today killed 11 Iraqis who ambushed a convoy on a highway north of Baghdad, only hours after mortar rounds slammed into a U.S. base in the same area, injuring 18 American soldiers, the military said.
Another U.S. soldier was shot and killed while guarding the Baghdad museum, the U.S. military said today.
U.S. Army Soldiers add barbed wire to the Anaconda Logistics Support Area in the Iraqi town of Balad, Friday, July 4, 2003, on the outskirts of Baghdad in Iraq. The support area came under mortar attack late last night injuring 18 US soldiers. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
The new attacks came just one day after 10 other American soldiers were injured in three separate attacks that demonstrated the increasing sophistication and brazenness of guerrilla-style strikes in Iraq, according to military officials.
The U.S. government also announced Thursday it is offering $25 million for information leading to the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his death.
The U.S. military said today the 11 Iraqis who were killed attacked the convoy with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire near Balad, 55 miles north of the capital. Soldiers of the Army's 4th Infantry Division fired back, killing all the men. None of the Americans was injured.
Late Thursday, blasts from four mortar rounds rocked a huge U.S. base near Balad, injuring 18 soldiers, said Maj. Edward Bryja, of the Army's 3rd Corps Support Command.
Two soldiers were seriously injured, with one undergoing surgery in a hospital located on the base and another evacuated for treatment, Bryja said. Others suffered cuts and small punctures from flying shrapnel, and nine soldiers quickly went back to duty, Army officials said.
Soldiers said flares and tracer bullets sliced across the night sky after the blasts.
"This is the first time the base was attacked – and the first time we've seen mortars," said Sgt. Grant Calease, who said he and other soldiers would nonetheless carry on with a July 4th steak barbecue.
The wounded soldiers belonged to Task Force Iron Horse, a 33,000-member unit that has been staging raids in the mainly Sunni Muslim areas. The task force includes soldiers from the Army's 3rd and 4th infantry divisions, as well as the 101st Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Elsewhere today, attackers detonated an explosive on a highway in Baghdad's western outskirts, injuring three passengers in a civilian car and two U.S. soldiers traveling in a Humvee convoy, according to an Associated Press photographer on the scene.
On Thursday evening, a sniper shot and killed a U.S. soldier manning the gunner's hatch of a Bradley fighting vehicle outside the national museum. The soldier was taken to a military hospital, but died of his wounds, Pruden said. His name was not immediately available.
Hours before the attack, the national museum displayed several artifacts that were looted after the fall of Baghdad and later recovered. The museum also showed several items from the Treasures of Nimrud, which were found hidden in a bank vault weeks ago. Curators acknowledged that many of the museum's treasures remain unaccounted for.
Despite the recent attacks, many of the U.S. troops planned July 4th barbecues at bases around the country.
"We should be celebrating with our families. It is sad. Everybody wants to go home. I am glad that we came here to liberate Iraq, but I think it is time for soldiers to see their families," said Sgt. Thas Eagans from Irving, Tex.
A few were invited to join Arnold Schwarzenegger for a screening at Baghdad International Airport of the muscle-bound actor's latest movie, erminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
Schwarzenegger addressed a crowd of soldiers in one of Saddam Hussein's former presidential palaces located inside the airport compound.
"I play terminator, but you guys are the true terminators," he told the soldiers, before heading to the base at Balad that came under attack.
In the north, American forces planned joint celebrations with Kurdish officials. The Kurds celebrate July 4 as the anniversary of their first government's election in 1992.
© 2003 The Associated Press