- BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- An
American hostage pleaded for his life with a rifle pointed at his head
in a video released Tuesday, while nine Iraqis, including a senior judge,
were killed in a series of attacks that highlighted the security risks
ahead of this weekend's elections.
- On a day that the U.S. military said six American soldiers
had died, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi also said the time was not
right to talk of a U.S. troop withdrawal. Iraq must first build up its
security forces to confront the insurgents, Allawi said.
- In the video, hostage Roy Hallums spoke slowly, rubbing
his hands as he sat with the barrel of the rifle inches from his head.
He said he had been arrested by a "resistance group" because
"I have worked with American forces." He appealed to Arab leaders,
including Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, to save his life.
- Hallums, 56, was seized Nov. 1 along with Filipino Robert
Tarongoy during an armed assault on their compound in Baghdad's Mansour
district. The two worked for a Saudi company that does catering for the
Iraqi army. The Filipino was not shown.
- "I am please asking for help because my life is
in danger because it's been proved I worked for American forces,"
the bearded Hallums said. "I'm not asking for any help from President
Bush because I know of his selfishness and unconcern for those who've been
pushed into this hellhole."
- Hallums said he was asking for help from "Arab rulers
especially President Moammar Gadhafi because he's known for helping those
who are suffering."
- In December, his wife, Susan Hallums of Corona, Calif.,
said she had not heard from the kidnappers, but she pleaded for his life.
She is separated from her husband, who is the father of their two daughters.
- A statement that surfaced Tuesday in the name of the
Islamic Army in Iraq called for more kidnappings and attacks before Sunday's
- The call, made on a Web site known for its Islamic militant
content, could not be authenticated. Militants have used the site to claim
responsibility for attacks and to condemn the Iraqi government and U.S.-led
forces in Iraq. Less often, they have made such direct appeals for violence.
- "Enemies of God such as the Americans and their
agents, the hypocrites and the apostates, are attempting to make the infidel
elections succeed at the end of the month," the statement said. To
that end, it said, "the headquarters of the Islamic Army in Iraq is
giving its orders to all troops affiliated with it everywhere to escalate
their operations to the maximum."
- Officials have warned of a surge in violence around the
elections, which insurgents have vowed to disrupt.
- Ten Americans have been taken hostage, including two
who were killed and four others who were either freed or escaped. The status
of three soldiers, believed to have been either abducted or killed, was
- Fighting erupted Tuesday in Baghdad's eastern Rashad
neighborhood as police fired on insurgents who were handing out leaflets
warning people not to vote.
- About the same time in the same neighborhood, insurgents
fired on police who were checking on a possible car bomb.
- Another bomb blew off the gate of a secondary school
in the neighborhood and gunmen opened fire on Iraqi and U.S. forces responding
to the blast.
- In all, three policemen were killed and nine were wounded
in the clashes, according to an official at Kindi Hospital. Two insurgents
died and a shopkeeper also was killed in the crossfire. Earlier, officials
reported 11 policemen were killed and offered no explanation for the revised
- Elsewhere, gunmen killed two Iraqi army soldiers on patrol
west of Baghdad, witnesses said.
- The slain judge was identified as Qais Hashim Shameri,
secretary general of the judges council in the Justice Ministry. Assailants
sprayed his car with bullets, also killing his driver and wounding a bodyguard.
- The Ansar al-Sunnah Army, one of Iraq's most active insurgent
groups, claimed responsibility. In a Web posting, it called him "one
of the heads of infidelity and apostasy of the new Iraqi government."
- Assailants also shot and killed a man who worked for
a district council in western Baghdad as he was on his way to work, police
- In a third ambush, gunmen firing from a speeding car
wounded three staffers from the Communications Ministry heading to work,
police Lt. Iyman Abdul-Hamid said.
- Attackers also shot and killed the son of an Iraqi translator
working with U.S. troops, police said.
- A police colonel was gunned down Monday, along with his
5-year-old daughter, as he was driving in southern Baghdad, officials said.
Col. Nadir Hassan was in charge of police protecting electric power facilities
in two provinces flanking the capital.
- Northeast of Baghdad, a U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicle
rolled into a canal during a combat patrol, killing five American soldiers
from the Army's 1st Infantry Division and wounding two others, the military
said Tuesday. The accident, which was under investigation, occurred near
the town of Khan Bani Saad during fierce sandstorms Monday night.
- Another U.S. soldier died of wounds from a roadside bomb
that blasted an American patrol in Baghdad, the military added.
- Speaking to reporters, Allawi said U.S. troops could
not be withdrawn until Iraq builds up its security forces.
- "Others spoke about the immediate withdrawal or
setting a timetable for the withdrawal of multinational forces," he
said. "I will not deal with the security matter under political pretexts
and exaggerations that do not serve Iraq and its people."
- "I will not set final dates" for the withdrawal
of international forces "because setting final dates will be futile
and dangerous," Allawi said.
- There has been speculation that the new Iraqi government
to be chosen after the weekend elections might ask the Americans to begin
negotiations for their departure _ as demanded by Sunni Arab insurgents
as well as members of the Sunni clergy. However, none of the major political
figures contesting the election has publicly called for such a step.
- Bush discussed the elections Tuesday with Allawi, White
House spokesman Scott McClellan said, the latest in a series of consultations
about the vote.
- Iraqis are to choose a 275-member National Assembly and
legislatures in each of the 18 provinces. Voters in the Kurdish-ruled area
of the north also will elect a regional parliament.
- Many Sunni Arabs are expected to boycott the elections,
either in opposition to the process or for fear of reprisals.
- On Tuesday, militants handed out flyers in Baghdad promising
that rebels would attack voters and shower polling stations with bombs,
mortar fire and rockets. The leaflets, which didn't bear the name of any
militant group, warned that "those who dare to stand in the lines
of death to participate in the elections will be responsible for the consequences
that will be heavy."
- "He will not be able to imagine what will happen
to him and his family for taking part in this crusaders' conspiracy to
occupy the land of Islam," the flyers said.
- In other violence, gunmen in northern Iraq kidnapped
a senior official in the Iraqi Communist Party, Mohammed Nouri Aqrawi,
in the city of Mosul, a party official said.
- Attackers blasted a school to be used as a polling station
with machine gun fire in the central city of Diwaniyah, but no one was
hurt, a Polish military spokesman said.
- On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting
the abuse of detainees by Iraq's fledgling, U.S.-trained security forces.
- With few exceptions, Iraqi authorities have not acted
to stop the mistreatment, the report said. International police advisers,
largely funded by Washington, "have turned a blind eye to these rampant
abuses," it said.
- Human Rights Watch said it interviewed 90 detainees in
Iraq, of whom 72 claimed to have been tortured or abused.
- The Iraqi government acknowledged abuses and said it
had launched its own inquiry.
- "We are sure that there are violations in these
prisons, but not so serious. The investigation is still under way,"
said Husham al-Suhail, an official in Iraq's Human Rights Ministry.
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