2 U.S. soldiers killed, 4 injured in Iraq

From Wire Reports

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two U.S. soldiers were killed and four wounded in the northern city of Mosul in two attacks yesterday, a day after a suicide bomber injured dozens of soldiers at a base west of the city, military officials said.

Here in the capital, a senior police official said yesterday that armed men robbed a government bank in a northwest suburb Tuesday and took almost 1.4 billion dinars, about $800,000. It was the largest bank robbery in Iraq since the widespread looting after U.S. forces took the city in the spring.

Military officials also said paratroopers made raids at 2 a.m. in Latifiya, near Baghdad, that resulted in the death or capture of people believed to be responsible for the killings of seven Spanish intelligence agents in an ambush Nov. 29.

In Madrid, the Spanish defense minister, Federico Trillo, said that U.S., British and Spanish forces, working together with the Iraqi police, had arrested 41 people, among them "the direct executors and organizers of the attack."

U.S. officials identified one as Abu Abdullah, whom they described as an intelligence officer, financier and doctor who acted as cell leader.

Trillo also said Iraqi police recently arrested five people believed to be responsible for killing another Spanish intelligence agent, Jose Antonio Bernal Gomez, at his Baghdad home Oct. 9. The comments came as Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, defended his deployment of 1,300 troops in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iraq's U.S.-appointed interim government established a war crimes tribunal yesterday to try former members of Saddam Hussein's government.

The new tribunal will cover crimes committed from July 17, 1968 - the day Hussein's Baath Party came to power - until May 1, 2003 - the day President Bush declared major hostilities over, said Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, president of Iraq's Governing Council.

The tribunal will try cases stemming from mass executions of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, as well as the suppression of uprisings by Kurds and Shiite Muslims after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

Al-Hakim said it would also try cases committed against Iran - with which Iraq fought a bloody 1980-88 war - and against Kuwait, which Iraq invaded in 1990, sparking the Gulf War.

U.S. authorities are holding several dozen of Hussein's top aides who could be tried by the new tribunal. These include Ali Hassan al-Majid - known as "Chemical Ali" - who gained notoriety for his savage campaign against Kurds.

Noor al-Din, a former appeals court judge, said the tribunal could try Hussein, who has eluded capture, in absentia.

In Mosul, yesterday's first attack took place about 11 a.m. as soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were watching over long gas lines. Gunfire erupted from two cars driving by, killing one soldier and wounding another, military officials said.

A Kurdish official driving from his office across the street was also killed, Agence France-Presse reported, quoting a Kurdish leader. But military officials said they had no details about a Kurd being killed.

On Monday a soldier was shot to death in Mosul while watching over a long line at a gas station. The Army has begun posting soldiers at gas stations because in the past several weeks the fuel shortages, caused by attacks on northern pipelines, have led to lines up to 2 miles long. Last week, soldiers in Samawa, south of Baghdad, encountered burning cars and oil barrels during a demonstration over the shortage.

In contrast, a heavily policed march in central Baghdad yesterday, organized peacefully by the country's major political parties, drew thousands of Iraqis to protest attacks by guerrilla fighters, which have injured and killed Iraqi civilians as well as occupiers.

Yesterday's second fatal attack came at 2 p.m. An improvised bomb went off as a convoy drove through the eastern side of Mosul, followed by small-arms fire. One soldier from the 101st Airborne was killed and three were wounded, officials said.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber tried to drive a car loaded with explosives into an Army base at Tall Afar, about 30 miles west of Mosul. The car exploded when soldiers fired on it, and officials initially said that 31 soldiers were injured. Reporters on the scene put the number at 58 after interviewing commanders.

In Baghdad, a senior police official said armed men staged a daylight bank robbery Tuesday in the middle-class suburb of Kadhimiya, in the city's northwest.

The bank was about to close; only a few workers remained. Two policemen who were supposed to be on guard were not there, the police official said.

On Nov. 30, guerrillas mounted an ambitious attack on two military convoys carrying newly printed dinars to two banks in the center of Samarra.

The convoys repulsed the attacks, and military officials said they killed 54 guerrillas, though residents of Samarra said fewer than a dozen Iraqis were killed. The discrepancy is unresolved.

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