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Several Attacks Kill At Least 24 in Iraq - 2004-04-24


Violence continues in Iraq, where explosions and attacks have killed at least 24 people and wounded dozens of others.

In Baghdad's Sadr City suburb, witnesses say at least one rocket slammed into a busy market today (Saturday), killing at least 10 and wounding more than 30 others.

Five U.S. soldiers were also killed early today when two rockets slammed into their base in Taji, north of Baghdad. Six other soldiers were wounded, some critically. U.S. military spokesmen say the truck used to fire the rockets was destroyed by a military helicopter.

In Karbala, Polish troops clashed overnight with insurgents, killing five.

And in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town, an apparent suicide car-bomb attack killed at least four people. Some of the victims were Iraqi police, but U.S. spokesmen say no Americans were injured in that attack.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East is quoted today as saying he might ask for more troops because of the deteriorating security situation.

General John Abizaid told the The New York Times (newspaper) that the next four months will be critical with further insurgent attacks against American troops likely. He also expressed doubts about the current reliability of Iraqi security forces.

His comments come as Iraq approaches June 30th -- the deadline the United States has set for a handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government.

The United States now has 135,000 troops in Iraq.

In other developments Friday, the radical Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr threatened to unleash suicide bombers against coalition forces if they attack his stronghold in the city of Najaf.

The U.S. military is warning insurgents in the mainly Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah that they will soon face a renewed coalition offensive unless they surrender their weapons and comply with conditions for a permanent cease-fire.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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