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American Forces Press Service

Violence Escalates as Crackdown on Insurgents Continues in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2005 -- Shortly after a U.S. Army general in Iraq predicted a surge in attacks with the approach of the Iraq elections, militants have abducted several senior Iraqi officials, beheaded an Iraqi who worked for the coalition and killed at least four others, according to today's press reports.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Erwin F. "Erv" Lessel, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq, said during a Jan. 7 interview with Fox News Channel that increased violence was likely as insurgents continued their attempt to derail the election process.

Today, media reports say gunman abducted four public officials from Salah Ad Din province. Details of the reported incidents and names of those involved could not yet be confirmed at press time.

In other Iraq news, a Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in a non-hostile motor vehicle accident Jan. 7 while conducting security and stability operations in the Anbar province, Multinational Force Iraq officials reported today. The incident is under investigation and name of the deceased is being withheld until the family is notified.

Meanwhile, Multinational Force troops continue to make progress in tracking down weapons caches and detaining suspected insurgents. Officials in Baghdad reported that multinational forces discovered and cleared 12 improvised explosive devices and 11 weapons caches Jan. 7, officials reported. The troops also conducted six cordon and search operations and four raids on suspected anti-Iraq forces facilities, detaining 79 suspected insurgents.

Elements from 1st Marine Division from the 1st MEF detained 17 suspected insurgents and seized several weapons caches today during operations throughout Anbar. Among the weapons and munitions destroyed were rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, rockets, mortars and material for assembling improvised explosive devices.

Troops from 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), detained 17 suspected anti-Iraq suspects during several operations in northern Iraq over the past 24 hours, officials reported.

Members of 1st Battalion, 25th Infantry Regiment, conducted a cordon and search south of Mosul, detaining five people suspected of planning and conducting bombing attacks in the city. Members of 2nd Battalion, 25th Airborne Infantry Regiment, also detained five people wanted for planning and conducting anti- Iraq activities during a cordon and search south of Mosul.

Three additional people were detained at a train station northwest of Mosul and another, in Hamam Al Ali, by troops from 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment. A search of the train station yielded five AK-47 weapons, a machine gun and ammunition, officials said.

Meanwhile, troops from 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery, detained two suspects suspected of bombing the Slobi Police Station during a cordon and search in Ljhalah-Sharq. The 14th Cavalry Regiment's 2nd Squadron detained another suspect, wanted for bombing attacks against Iraqi security forces and multinational force convoys, in Tal Afar.

Officials reported that an Iraqi man foiled an attempt by three armed attackers to place an improvised explosive device at his front door in south-central Iraq on Jan. 5. The man shot one of the attacks and sent the other two fleeing, then flagged down a group of Marines on patrol to report the incident.

The man said he believed the attackers had targeted him after he confronted them for repeatedly and suspiciously driving through his neighborhood at night.

Troops from the Stryker Brigade Combat Team are working with local-based companies on various construction projects.

The 133rd Engineer Combat Battalion, with Mosul-based contractors, is working to improve crumbling asphalt roadways on more than 104,000 square meters of roads in different locations throughout the region.

Project cost is $2.25 million, with 810 jobs created, officials reported. In conjunction with this work, the groups will add concrete surface-drainage cross gutters, a $250,000 project that will create another 90 jobs.

The engineers and Mosul-based contractors are also constructing an environmental test center in Nineveh. The new Environmental Directorate Complex project, at $650,000, created 234 jobs.

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