American Soldier Reported Captured in Iraq
US soldier reported captured in Iraq (Sidney Morning Herald)
Insurgents have captured an American soldier in the Iraqi city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, an Iraqi police spokesman said yesterday. Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Ahmed of Samarra police told reporters the soldier had been seized on Monday night by gunmen in two Opel cars. He said US troops were out in force in the streets of the Sunni Muslim city yesterday. The U.S. military denied the report, saying the 1st Infantry Division, whose operating area includes Samarra, had reported “100 percent accountability of their soldiers at this time”.
The denial strikes me as highly credible. Force protection is a critical component of our mission in Iraq and we’re quite good at it. It’s quite unlikely that an American soldier was in a position to be captured, as they certainly travel in groups and are well armed.
Meanwhile, a group led by al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi showed the beheading of Japanese hostage Shosei Koda while he was lying on top of a US flag in an Internet video posted yesterday. Al-Qaeda Organisation of Holy War in Iraq also warned Tokyo to withdraw its forces from Iraq or “drown in the hell of the mujahideen” in the country along with “crusader forces”.
In Baghdad, at least six people were killed when a suicide car bomb exploded outside Iraq’s Education Ministry and hundreds of people fled the rebel-held city of Fallujah after a night of US air raids. The latest violence came as the people of the United States went to the polls to vote on their next president in an election campaign that has focused much attention on Washington’s decision to invade Iraq. Another bomb exploded near the notorious Abu Ghraib prison injuring two Iraqi national guards, while six staff from a Saudi company, including an American, remained missing after kidnappers raided their Baghdad offices yesterday.
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has pledged to restore order to the country ahead of its own landmark polls, promised by January, and is prepared to use force. To this end, US and Iraqi troops are massing around the flashpoint cities of Fallujah and neighbouring Ramadi with expectations high of an all-out assault against militants who strike the government and its allies with a daily barrage of bombings and kidnappings.
Clearly, the terrorists are trying to influence the outcome of our election.