www.chinaview.cn 2005-11-01 13:54:29

BAGHDAD, Oct. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- The deaths of six more US soldiers in Iraq Monday raised the US military death toll for October to 93, making it the worst month for US troops since January, the US military said.

The US death toll for the Iraq war just broke the 2,000 mark last week.

Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita attributed the increased deaths to "an adversary that continues to develop some sophistication on very deadly and increasingly precise standoff weapons."

US marines fire mortars at insurgents from a position in the Iraqi-Syrian border town of Kusaiybah Oct. 27 in western Iraq. (AFP)
Among the six soldiers who died Monday, four were killed by a makeshift bomb in the Yusufiyah district, southwest of Baghdad, and two other soldiers were killed in an explosion while on patrol near the Anaconda base, on the outskirts of Balad, north of the capital, the military said.

The week's casualties included the highest ranking army officer killed in action since the start of the war, Colonel William Wood, who died Sunday when an improvised bomb hit his vehicle near al-Amiriyah, west of Baghdad.

That made October, which saw Iraqis voting for a constitution and putting Saddam Hussein on trial, the worst month for US forces since January, when 107 US soldiers were killed, more than 30 of them in a helicopter crash.

Only during two other months since the war began has the US military seen a higher toll: 137 in November 2004 and 135 in April 2004, according to Pentagon figures. The tolls included combat and non-combat deaths.

The killings of six more US soldiers in roadside explosions in Iraq Monday raised the US death toll for October to 93, making it the fourth deadliest month for the US military since the March 2003 invasion.
A US marine sniper fires at insurgents from a hideout on a rooftop near the town of al-Qaim at the Iraqi-Syrian border, in western Iraq. (AFP)

The Iraqi insurgents have been using bigger, deadlier bombs and with new techniques, such as "shaped" explosive charges capable of blowing through armored US vehicles since the beginning of this year.

In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a car bomb hit a police patrol Monday evening, killing at least 20 people, including five policemen, and wounding 40 or so others.

The bomb was so powerful that it damaged six cars and destroyed 10 shops nearby when Basra's bustling Algiers Street area was packed with festive crowds enjoying the cool evening during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Under the control of the British troops, the second largest Iraqi city was comparatively quiet after the war started in March 2003.

Public safety has deteriorated in recent months in Basra largely because of feuding among rival Shiite militias.

Earlier, US military commanders have warned that Sunni insurgents will step up their attacks in the run-up to the Dec. 15 election, when Iraqis will choose their first full-term parliament since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.

To guard against such attacks, the military has raised the number of American troops in Iraq to 157,000 -- among the highest levels of the Iraq war.

DiRita said US forces are looking for new ways to deal with the modified bombs.

"We're getting more intelligence that's allowing us to stop more of these things, find more of them. So we're learning from them and the enemy is learning from us, and it's going to be that way for as long as there is an insurgency," DiRita said.

Realigned Iraqi parties and coalitions have fully geared up for the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, which many analysts believe will lead to considerable changes in the country's political landscape.

Registration ended on Friday with 21 coalitions and 230 political parties and entities set to run.

Five groups are widely expected to dominate the race -- the Shiite list, the Kurdish bloc, two Sunni Arab parties and a secular coalition led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The order in which parties appear on the lengthy ballot paper will be drawn by lot on Tuesday. Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said up to 1 million Iraqis living abroad may not be able to vote due to the cost and a tight schedule.

The new four-year-term parliament will have 275 seats, of which 230 are distributed among 18 provinces by proportional representation, according to the Iraqi Electoral Commission.

The remaining 45 seats will be allocated for parties which fail to win seats in any one province but garner enough votes nationwide for at least one seat



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