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Army hospital treating ABC News anchor injured in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Army News Service, Jan. 30, 2006) – ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt are being treated at Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany after the armored personnel carrier in which they were riding Jan. 29 encountered an improvised explosive device near Taji, Iraq.

The ABC news crew was embedded with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division and taking part in a combined Coalition/Iraqi operation when the attack occurred at about 12:25 p.m., according to 4th ID authorities.

The two, along with a wounded Iraqi soldier, were first evacuated to a military hospital in Iraq for treatment. Woodruff and Vogt were then flown to Germany for further treatment and their condition was last reported as serious but stable.

“Our immediate priority is the well-being of the two injured reporters and the Iraqi soldier,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, Multi-National Division-Baghdad spokesman, who added that the IED incident is being investigated.

More IEDs, but fewer casualties

Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers lost their lives in separate IED attacks only the day prior.

Improvised explosive devices have become the terrorists' weapon of choice in Iraq, coalition officials said. There were 10,593 IED attacks against coalition forces, Iraqi security forces, government officials and Iraqi civilians in 2005. That figure is up from 5,607 in 2004.

To counter the IED threat, the U.S. Army initiated an IED task force in 2003, which evolved into the Joint IED Defeat Task Force in 2004. The program has helped reduce the effectiveness of IED attacks, Defense officials said, through the employment of better equipment, as well as better tactics, techniques and procedures. This is one reason why casualty figures among Coalition Forces were down in 2005, in spite of increased attacks, said Brig. Gen. C. Donald Alston, Multi-National Force spokesman during a Jan. 22 interview with USA Today reporter Rick Jervis.

Locals targeted

Another reason why coalition casualties are down may be the fact that the terrorists have turned more of their attention to the local population, officials said. In one incident, according to a Multi-National Division-Baghdad statement, Iraqi security forces and U.S. Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th ID, responded to a report of insurgents killing several civilians inside a Baghdad mosque Jan. 27.

Further reports indicated that a large number of terrorists were firing rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at Iraqi Police. Iraqi and Coalition Forces detained three suspected terrorists in that incident.

“These are people who are willing to commit mass murder by suicide, these are people who are utterly unscrupulous,” Col. H.R. McMaster, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment commander, said of the terrorists, during a Pentagon Press briefing Jan. 27. McMaster's forces are wrapping up their deployment in northern Iraq.

Terrorists bomb schools

During his weekly press briefing Jan. 26, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, Coalition spokesman, provided details of insurgents emplacing a bomb at a school, and local citizens' growing rejection of the terrorists' goals and methods.

“They're seeing what you're seeing. Just in the last several days down in Basra , Zarqawi and his network placed an IED against the wall of a schoolhouse, detonated it and injured 20 innocent children,” Lynch said.

“Just last Sunday here outside of Baghdad Zarqawi and his network took a bomb, put it against a schoolhouse door and set it up as a booby trap.” Lynch said. “And if it wasn't for the awareness of the local Iraqi security guard, that bomb would have detonated when innocent children opened that door, and children would have been killed.”

Increasingly, according to military officials, Iraqi citizens are calling in the whereabouts and activities of the insurgents. A tip led to the detention of a kidnapping cell leader and three other insurgents west of Baghdad Jan. 28, according to Multi-National Division-Baghdad sources. Not only did Coalition Soldiers nab the terrorists, they also discovered weapons, IED-making material, artillery shells, and anti-Iraqi forces literature.

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