Iraqi officials say the death toll from the bloodiest day of insurgent-led attacks
in months has risen to at least 100, including three U.S. servicemen. Less than
a week before the planned transfer of power in Iraq, car bombs detonated near
a police academy, a hospital and several police stations in the northern city
of Mosul, killing at least 44 people and wounding more than 200 others. U.S.
forces came under heavy attack in Baquba, where two American servicemen were
among more than a dozen people killed. U.S. aircraft dropped three 225-kilogram
bombs on insurgent strongholds around the municipality.
Iraqi officials report several dozen others deaths in clashes in Ramadi,
Fallujah and on the outskirts of Baghdad. In Fallujah, the crew of a U.S. Marine
helicopter escaped unharmed after making an emergency landing.
Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi condemned the insurgents, whose
coordinated attacks appear to be growing more extensive and more daring as
the June 30 transfer date nears.
"The attacks were cowardly acts committed by criminals, by hypocrites, infidels
who are trying to inflict damage on the Iraqi people, and to undermine the
democratic process that we are moving towards," he said.
The condemnation was echoed by Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Shalan, who said
the interim government would not hesitate to declare martial law if events dictate
such a step. Mr. Shalan said Iraqi security forces will increasingly take the
lead role in patrolling the country, with coalition troops serving as a backup.
To that end, Prime Minister Allawi has written a letter to allied governments
requesting further help in training Iraqi security forces, as well as other
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said NATO could play
a useful training role. Secretary of State Colin Powell noted the contributions
of dozens of coalition partners to date, adding that the Iraqi people would
welcome new partners.
Italy is already signaling its approval of a NATO role in Iraq. Italian Foreign
Minister Franco Frattini said his country would back the Allawi request at
next week's NATO summit in Turkey.
On Capitol Hill, the man tapped to be the next commander of U.S.-led forces
in Iraq, General George Casey, said anti-democratic forces in Iraq have proven
deadlier and more determined than he imagined.
"The insurgency is much stronger than I certainly would have anticipated.
I think they have support from external sources," he said.
The general said Iraq's majority-Sunni Muslim region northwest of Baghdad
remains a focal point of unrest, and that coalition forces need better on-the-ground
human intelligence from Iraqis in order to boost security in the country.