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Daily Archives: June 2, 2009

US military deaths hit eight-month high

The US military suffered its highest death toll in Iraq for eight months in May, with 24 troops dying just weeks ahead of the planned American pullout from major towns and cities this month.
The figures contrasted sharply with statistics released on Sunday by Iraqi ministries showing that 124 civilians, six soldiers and 25 policemen were killed last month – the lowest since the US-led invasion of March 2003.
Several attacks targeted US soldiers in May, including a roadside bomb near a market in southern Baghdad on May 21 that killed three American troops.
According to an AFP count based on the independent website, 4,306 American troops have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion that ousted now executed dictator Saddam Hussein but sparked a deadly insurgency.
A senior US officer, however, said on Sunday that American forces would withdraw as planned from Iraqi cities and major towns by the end of June in line with a deal signed between the two countries last year.
"The multinational force remains committed to adhering to the security agreement," said Brigadier General Keith Walker, commander of the Iraq Assistance Group, which co-ordinates military activities with Iraqi forces.
Walker also said there had as yet been no request from the Iraqi government for US combat troops to remain stationed in insurgent hotspots, such as the northern city of Mosul, beyond the June 30 deadline.
"The security situation remains fragile as extremist groups remain capable of conducting very high profile attacks," he told reporters, when questioned on the high number of US troop deaths.
"That is my best answer. Fortunately our overall number of attacks has reduced," Walker added.
The 24 US deaths in May included 12 soldiers who died in non-combat incidents. This compared with 25 deaths in September, of which 15 were non-combat related.
A further 285 Iraqi civilians, four soldiers and 55 police were wounded and 40 presumed insurgents killed and 904 arrested, according to the statistics released by the Iraqi authorities.
The Iraqi casualty rate was dramatically down from last month when 355 people died in what was the deadliest month since September.

UN to train 35,000 police for Afghan election

The United Nations in Afghanistan announced yesterday it was working with the European Union and Afghan authorities to train 35,000 policemen to secure elections due in August.
Strenuous international efforts are being made to protect the voting process from possible militant attack and other threats of violence that could deter voters from casting their ballot.
Some 350 police officers from across the country have started training, including how to monitor the voting process and on election law, UN spokeswoman in Kabul, Nilab Mubariz, told reporters.
"The trained officers will in turn train others, with the target being 35,000 by August 20," she added.
The trained officers will be drawn from the ranks of the police, she said.
Forty-four would-be candidates have registered for the August 20 presidential election although some contenders may be eliminated by the time the final candidate list is announced on June 12.
Around 3,324 candidates have also signed up to run for seats on 34 provincial councils which will be elected at the same time.
One provincial council candidate was killed last week by a bomb fixed to his car. He was the first on the list to be assassinated.
Afghan and Western troops have been preparing for the elections for months, with the NATO-led force securing thousands of reinforcements for the elections.
The Afghan government has said it will allocate 20 policemen to protect each candidate that makes it on to the ballot paper for the presidential vote.