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9 Marines Die as Insurgents Mount Attacks » 10/31/2004
U.N. hostages plead for lives on video » 10/31/2004
Iraq's Patience Running Out in Fallujah » 10/31/2004
Allawi Says Fallujah Showdown Imminent » 10/31/2004

9 Marines Die as Insurgents Mount Attacks 10/31/2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 30 - Eight marines were killed and nine others wounded west of the capital on Saturday when a suicide car bomb rammed into their convoy, military officials said, resulting in the deadliest day for the American forces in half a year.

[The Marines later reported a ninth combat death on Saturday, The Associated Press reported, but did not say whether it was in the car bombing or another action. Efforts to contact the Marines for clarification were unsuccessful.]

In the heart of Baghdad, insurgents staged their first major assault on a news media organization by detonating a car bomb outside the offices of a popular Arab news network, killing at least 7 people and wounding 19 others, police and hospital officials said.

The marines were attacked near Abu Ghraib, the prison 15 miles west of Baghdad used by the Americans to hold detainees, said Capt. Bradley Gordon, a spokesman for the First Marine Division.

The military said in a terse statement that those killed were conducting "increased security operations."

Marines have been battling an increasingly lethal insurgency in the rebellious Anbar Province, which encompasses the parched lands of western Iraq; the provincial capital, Ramadi; and the insurgent stronghold Falluja.

The American military is making final preparations for an all-out invasion of Falluja in hopes that overrunning the insurgent sanctuaries there would quell the guerrilla war across Iraq and secure the city of 300,000 for the country's first democratic elections, scheduled for January.

But it is the insurgents who have seized the offensive in recent weeks, and the number of attacks per day has risen by 30 percent or more since mid-October, at the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, military officials say.

The relentless assaults have driven a wall between the foreign presence here and the rest of the country, with soldiers, diplomats and contractors holed up in their fortified hotels or bases while guerrillas move freely and strike at will.

The bomb that killed seven in Baghdad on Saturday exploded outside the offices of Al Arabiya, the prominent network based in Dubai. Insurgents drove a car packed with explosives to the network's offices in Mansour, an affluent neighborhood west of the Tigris River that has suffered from a surge of violence.

An hour after the blast, a charred car chassis lay in the road as American soldiers and Iraqi policemen raced to cordon off the site. Ambulances carried off bodies drenched in blood. A group calling itself the 1920 Brigades claimed responsibility in an Internet posting, saying Al Arabiya's workers were "Americanized spies speaking in Arabic tongue."

Al Arabiya has covered the war with an angle seen by many as anti-American and has been sharply criticized by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

[A decapitated body wrapped in an American flag and found in an insurgent-controlled section of Baghdad was that of a Japanese man kidnapped by Islamic militants, a Japanese official said Sunday, The Associated Press reported. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said in Tokyo that the government had confirmed that the body found Saturday was that of Shosei Koda, 24, a Japanese traveler being held by the militant group of Jordanian fighter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

[The group had vowed to behead Mr. Koda within 48 hours unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi quickly rejected that demand. Mr. Koizumi on Sunday called the killing a "brutal, inhuman act." He vowed to stay the course in Iraq. "I believe we should continue to support the Iraqi people's efforts to rebuild their country," Mr. Koizumi told reporters.

[Hours after Mr. Koda's body was found, a Polish woman being held by militants pleaded for her life and asked Poland to remove its troops from Iraq in a video televised by Al-Jazeera television. "Once again I call on you to help me, by saving my life," the hostage, Teresa Borcz-Kalifa, 54, said. "My life is in great danger. The one thing that will save my life is any response to the Iraqis' demands: by first getting the Polish troops out of Iraq and second, giving any help to release the female Iraqi prisoners from the various American prisons in Iraq."]

New York Times

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