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(an average of 13 attacks have been launched each day against occupation forces during the past 45 days, totaling roughly 585)
Iraqi Attacks Grow Bolder
Two explosions injuring 10 Americans show more coordination.
Iraqi Strikes Injure 10 U.S. Troops
Reward Offered For Hussein Tips
By Molly Moore and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
BAGHDAD, July 3 -- Ten U.S. soldiers were injured today in three separate attacks that demonstrated the increasing sophistication and brazenness of guerrilla-style strikes against U.S.-led forces in Iraq, according to military officials.
The U.S. government, meanwhile, offered $25 million for information leading to the capture of Saddam Hussein or confirmation of his death, stepping up efforts to neutralize the former president as a rallying point for Iraqis opposing U.S. forces.
The day's assaults killed at least two Iraqis and injured another 13, Iraqi hospital officials and eyewitnesses said.
In the boldest attack of the day, a mid-morning explosion wounded three American soldiers as they patrolled Baghdad's busy Haifa Street in their Humvee. A U.S. military convoy raced to the scene and opened fire randomly in all directions, according to numerous eyewitness accounts, injuring some residents and inflaming a neighborhood already seething over the U.S. occupation.
As soon as the convoy sped away, neighborhood frustration and rage boiled over. Men and boys descended on the disabled Humvee and set it ablaze, turning it into a charred carcass of melted metal amid chants of "God is greatest."
"We burned it shouting for Americans to get out of Iraq," said Ahmed Hussein, 27, as rivulets of sweat dripped down his thin face under the brutal sun.
The incident, coupled with a second explosion that injured six U.S. soldiers in the town of Ramadi about 60 miles west of Baghdad, were examples of the increasing "coordination and sophistication of the attacks" against occupation forces, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of ground forces in Iraq, said at news conference here.
Sanchez said an average of 13 attacks have been launched each day against occupation forces during the past 45 days, totaling roughly 585. In addition to the use of increasingly sophisticated explosive devices, Sanchez said, "we believe there may be regional cooperation of subversives," including Iraqis loyal to Hussein, Islamic radicals and common criminals.
Although Sanchez said the military was concerned about the attacks and the festering anti-American sentiment, he insisted, "We can handle these attacks and we are handling them on a daily basis."
The U.S. government's offer of $25 million for information leading to Hussein's capture or contributing to confirmation of his death was announced by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. The United States also will pay $15 million for similar information on each of the former Iraqi president's two sons, Uday and Qusay.
An official with the provisional authority said the main reward, which matches the still-outstanding offer for information leading to the capture of the al Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden, was being offered because officials believe that Iraqi citizens may now have the courage to come forward with information.
U.S. officials said they believed the blast in Ramadi, and perhaps the one in Baghdad, involved explosives that were planted in the median strip of a road and detonated when American soldiers drove past. Sanchez said the military was investigating whether the Baghdad incident was caused by such a device or a rocket-propelled grenade . Iraqi witnesses gave conflicting accounts.
The other attack occurred at 2:30 a.m. in Baghdad's Kadhimiya neighborhood, where an Iraqi gunman fired on soldiers from the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division as they conducted a "routine nighttime patrol," according to a statement issued by military officials here. One soldier was injured. The soldiers returned fire, killing the gunman and wounding a 6-year-old boy who was nearby, the statement said.
Meanwhile, in the city of Baqubah, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, an explosion killed one man and wounded five in a crowd of several hundred Iraqis demonstrating peacefully against the U.S. Army's detention of the city's top Shiite cleric, Ali Abdul Kareem Madani, according to news services.
Some witnesses said explosives went off in the midst of the crowd, but Capt. Josh Felker of the 4th Infantry Division told the Associated Press that a grenade went off in a man's hand, perhaps as he was trying to throw it over the wall of a local government compound that houses a U.S. military office.
Back on Haifa Street, a bustling thoroughfare anchored on one end by the Justice Ministry and lined with rows of look-alike, khaki-colored apartment houses, there was no talk of cooperation with Americans.
The explosion there, and subsequent gunfire from U.S. troops, killed at least one Iraqi dead wounded 12. The dead man appeared to have been killed by the explosion, according to several witnesses and a medical examination of the victim. Several witnesses reported a second fatality, also caused by the explosion, but it could not be confirmed.
Two Humvees were patrolling Haifa Street when an explosion occurred in front of the second vehicle, several witnesses said. Though the Humvee was not damaged, all four tires were punctured and three of the passengers were injured, at least two severely, witnesses said.
"When they first came, the American soldiers gave the children chocolates," said Shuhair Saleh, 41, whose son, Ahmed Waheed, 13, moaned on a nearby hospital cot, both his legs bandaged and bloodied from multiple fractures. "Now they're killing them."
Ahmed and at least two other children were injured in the blast as they returned home from school after taking final examinations. But Sajad Hassar Alawaan, 21, who lay on the next hospital bed, said the wound in his left thigh had been caused by a bullet.
"I saw an explosion and dust. Then I heard shooting and I was hit," said Alawaan, who had been heading from his apartment building to his shop, where he sells fish nets and heaters.
In Ramadi, six soldiers from the 43rd Engineering Battalion of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were injured when an explosive device in a median strip detonated near the Al Haq mosque, according to U.S. military officials. The assailants had strung a wire from the explosive to a nearby parade viewing stand, witnesses said.
Graffiti painted on a nearby wall said, "Saddam will be back . . . and he will kick out the enemies."
U.S. military officials detained two Iraqis suspected of carrying out the attack, classifying them as enemy prisoners of war, said Sgt. Gary Qalls, a cavalry spokesman.
In the town of Fallujah, about 30 miles west of the capital, the U.S. commander in the area, Col. Joseph DiSalvo, said an investigation into an explosion at a mosque that killed seven people on Tuesday had not yet determined that it was caused by people assembling bombs, as the U.S. Central Command had said on Wednesday.
"All we can say is that the blast came from inside the building," DiSalvo said.
Lt. Col. Eric Wesley, executive officer of the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade stationed in Fallujah, said the information in the Central Command report "did not come from us."
A U.S. military official in the restive city said investigators think people inside the mosque compound were assembling explosive devices but that military commanders in the city were reluctant to say so publicly because they feared exacerbating tensions with religious leaders. "No matter what we say, they won't believe us," the official said.
The official said commanders had planned to provide the results of their investigation to religious leaders with the hope they would come to the same conclusion and say so publicly.
Chandrasekaran reported from Ramadi.