Two US soldiers killed in Baghdad gunbattle
* Saddam loyalists among 49 Iraqis arrested
* Kirkuk oil line reopening soon
* Annan dismayed at Security Council’s slow Iraq proceedings
BAGHDAD: Two US soldiers were killed in a Baghdad gunbattle, the military reported Thursday, ending a four-day stretch in which the military said there had been no combat fatalities.
The two soldiers of the 1st Armored Division died in a firefight in the Al Rashid district of the Iraqi capital at 11 pm Wednesday night. A translator with the soldiers was wounded, according to the US Central Command in Tampa, Florida.
An Iraqi was killed and three US soldiers wounded in an attack on a military vehicle in a main Baghdad shopping street on Thursday, a military source at the scene told AFP.
The three soldiers were hurt when their Humvee armoured vehicle came under fire on Karada Street and burst into flames, but the soldier at the scene did not specify the kind of arms used in the attack.
The Iraqi was killed in an exchange of fire that followed the attack, an AFP correspondent reported.
A gunbattle then raged intermittently, the crackle of Kalashnikovs trading with booming US guns. The exchange prevented a US military helicopter buzzing overhead from landing and picking up wounded.
A three-storey building caught fire during the fighting, and a US soldier was seen escorting several children away from the structure as smoke billowed out. The army started to spray jets of water on the flaming yellow-brick building.
A US soldier died of a seizure while performing duties in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a military spokesman said Thursday.
The US military arrested 49 people overnight, including four loyalists of Saddam Hussein, General Raymond Odierno, the head of the 4th Infantry Division (4th ID), said Thursday.
“One was a Fedayeen leader arrested in Tikrit, one was a former regime loyalist in Tikrit, and two were former associates of (Saddam’s sons) Qusay and Uday in Kirkuk,” Odierno said.
Iraq’s northern Kirkuk oil pipeline, crucial to raising Iraqi crude exports, will reopen very soon, Iraq’s acting Oil Minister Thamir Ghadhban said on Thursday. “We hope to begin pumping very soon.”
Iraq’s Governing Council said Thursday it had opened discussions on naming interim ministers as one member announced that the transitional body had agreed on a federal system for a future Iraq.
Annan: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is fed up with the Security Council’s slow deliberations on the reconstruction of Iraq, a UN official said in Baghdad Thursday.
“The secretary general expressed two days ago his impatience with the dealings and discussions taking place among Security Council members,” said Ghassan Salameh, number two to the UN special envoy here, Sergio Vieira de Mello.—Agencies