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GI and an Iraqi Police Chief Are Killed in Two Incidents

September 16, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — An American soldier was killed and an Iraqi police chief gunned down in separate incidents Monday.

The soldier, from the Army's 1st Armored Division, was critically injured when a rocket- propelled grenade hit his vehicle at 1 a.m. in central Baghdad. He died of his wounds a few hours later at a military field hospital, according to a military spokesman in the Iraqi capital.

He is the 294th member of the U.S. military reported to have been killed since the war began March 20. More than 1,100 have been wounded.

The police chief, Khedeir Mekhalef Ali, was killed at about 2 p.m. when three men, their faces covered with head scarves, opened fire on him as he was driving between Fallouja and his town, Khaldiyah, which is 40 miles west of Baghdad and deep in the Sunni Muslim territory that is the most violent area of the country.

The death of the police chief was particularly significant because the return of the Iraqi police had begun to create a greater feeling of security and to allow American troops to maintain a lower profile.

Two days earlier, the U.S. military had apologized for mistakenly killing eight policemen and a security guard Friday in Fallouja, and several relatives of police who were injured in that incident said officers had received threats from people who believed they were collaborators with the Americans.

However, there were indications that in the Monday incident the assailants were part of a gang of car thieves who had threatened to kill the Khaldiyah police chief because he was pursuing them, according to an interview by Associated Press with another Khaldiyah police officer.

Meanwhile, five men were arrested Monday in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, during a raid on several houses along a highway where there have been 20 grenade attacks on U.S. troops in the last two weeks, according to Associated Press. U.S. authorities said the men were financiers of the Fedayeen Saddam, the former special forces of Saddam Hussein thought to be responsible for attacks on U.S. troops.

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