Mortar attacks and bombings continued in Iraq Thursday as the one-year anniversary
of the invasion of Iraq approaches. V-O-A'S Greg LaMotte in Cairo reports military
officials are blaming some of the violence on Muslim militants linked to al-Qaida.
For the second day in a row insurgents attacked hotels in Iraq, this time
in the southern city of Basra. A bomb exploded Thursday at a hotel in the center
of the city, which has been used regularly by the British military for news
Wednesday night, a car packed with some 500 kilos of explosives blew up near
a small hotel in Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding dozens of others.
West of Baghdad, in the city of Fallujah, guerrillas Thursday fired rocket-propelled
grenades at the municipal council building. American troops returned fire.
And, northeast of Baghdad in the city of Baquba, a bomb attack occurred Thursday
killing and wounding more than a dozen people.
U.S. military officials blame the attacks on forces loyal to former Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein and Muslim militants with links to the terrorist group
The former director of Egypt's Strategic Center of Armed Forces, Hossam Sowaillam,
said he agrees. The former Egyptian army general said insurgents from other
countries are determined to see rebuilding efforts in Iraq fail.
"They are not only those who are pro-Saddam but those fanatics coming across
the border from Iran, from Syria, from other countries especially al-Qaida
and bin Laden," he explained. "What is the good thing that is happening is
that the Iraqis themselves recognize who is their enemy, who wants to undermine
all tries to rebuild Iraq. They recognize this very well. Even the Arab newspapers
and the mass media in the Arab world and among the Arab people recognize it
is not national resistance against the Americans, it is terrorist action against
Most of the attacks in Iraq have been directed against Iraqi targets. Military
officials say they expect attacks to increase with the approach of the one-year
anniversary of the invasion Friday. They also believe attacks will continue
leading up to the end of June, when the transfer of power from the Americans
to the Iraqis is scheduled to take place.