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29/03/03  Terjemahan: Muzammil Haji Daud

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Suicide bombing kills
5 U.S. soldiers

Taxi blows up at checkpoint at Al Kifl

AL KIFL, Iraq, March 29 —  Two suicide bombers in a taxi killed five U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint in south-central Iraq, a U.S. officer said Saturday. Capt. Andrew Wallace said the victims were part of the Army’s 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Divison.

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       THE ATTACK occurred at a U.S.-manned checkpoint at the town of Al Kifl on Highway 9, north of Najaf.
       A taxi stopped close to the checkpoint, and the driver waved for help. Five soldiers approached the car, and it exploded, Wallace told Associated Press Television News.
       It was not immediately clear precisely when the incident occurred. Some reports said four soldiers were killed.
       U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, confirmed the incident.
       The suicide bombing Saturday was the first against U.S. and British forces since the invasion of Iraq began.
       There had been warnings of suicide attacks in the country.
       Iraqi dissidents and Arab media have claimed that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has opened a training camp for Arab volunteers willing to carry out suicide bombings against U.S. forces in Iraq.
       Accused terror mastermind Osama bin Laden also urged Iraqis last month in an audiotape aired on Arabic television to employ the tactic against U.S. forces. Other Arab militants also spoke about suicide missions against the invading armies.
Terrorism expert Walid Phares says the bombers were inspired by calls from clerics.

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       Such suicide attacks are common by Palestinian militants in targeting the better-equipped Israeli army during the uprising on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
       Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri was asked in a mid-March television interview whether Iraq would use the tactic of suicide attacks against the invading forces.
       “We have prepared ourselves for all kinds of war,” Sabri said. “For many months, tens of thousands have volunteered to serve as martyrdom-seekers (suicide attackers) in the battle with the
       American enemy. We trained them and readied them. We have prepared ourselves for street fighting and desert fighting.”

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       The biggest suicide bombing against the U.S. military abroad was in Lebanon when a truck packed with explosives drove into the U.S. Marine base at Beirut International Airport and exploded in the
       early morning of Oct. 23, 1983, as the troops slept. The attack killed 241 U.S. servicemen and leveled the base. Simultaneously, a Beirut base for French soldiers was attacked by another suicide
       bomber, killing 58 paratroopers.
       The U.S. troops and the French were in Lebanon as part of an ill-fated peacekeeping mission to end Lebanon’s civil war. Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militants were blamed for the attacks.
       In 1996, a truck bomb at the U.S. Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia killed 19 U.S. servicemen.
       This is a developing story that will be updated.
       Dana Lewis of NBC News in Iraq and The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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