Skip to comments.Deaths cause doubt about Iraqi police
Posted on 03/12/2004 8:59:17 AM PST by Dubya
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - U.S. officials are worried that Iraqi police not just impostors in Iraqi uniforms may have been behind the killings of two coalition staffers and their translator, the top American general in Iraq said Thursday.
The three were the first civilians from the U.S. occupation authority to be killed in Iraq.
The shooting Tuesday night raised two possibilities: that guerrillas had adopted a new tactic of posing as police to carry out attacks, or that some members of the security forces being trained by U.S. troops are turning to violence.
The Americans and an Iraqi woman working as their translator were driving near Hillah, 35 miles south of Baghdad, when they were stopped at a checkpoint and killed by gunmen.
The attackers then took their car, their bodies still inside, according to the Polish military, which patrols the area. Polish troops stopped the car and arrested the five Iraqis inside.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said it was not yet known if the attackers were disguised as police or the real thing.
The U.S. military, which has been training Iraqs new police force, is trying "to ensure that they are truly serving their communities," he said.
Also Thursday, the military said an American soldier from the 652nd Engineering Battalion was killed and two others wounded the day before when a homemade bomb went off in the city of Baqouba north of Baghdad, a center of anti-U.S. insurgent activity.
The latest death brings to 554 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the United States launched the Iraq war last March.
Most have died since President Bush declared an end to active combat May 1.
In the southern city of Basra, attackers killed two Iraqi women late Wednesday as they were returning home in a taxi from their jobs in a laundry for the coalition, a coalition official said.
Guerrillas have not been widely known to use police disguises and the attack on the coalition employees near Hillah could signal a new tactic.
Roads across Iraq are dotted with checkpoints manned by Iraqi police or coalition troops, particularly at the entrances to towns.
There has been at least one other case of members of the Iraqi security forces working with insurgents.
On Monday, U.S. forces captured two members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps who were "suspected of conducting anti-coalition activities," the military said.