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Source: Aljazeera

Marine killed in anniversary attack

Saturday 20 March 2004, 12:58 Makka Time, 9:58 GMT
One year after invasion, the situation remains unstable

A US marine occupation soldier has been killed by resistance fighters near
the restive town of Falluja in Iraq on the first anniversary of the
American-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

The US military revealed the latest casualty on Saturday. The marines this
month took over responsibility for the region from the 82nd Airborne
Division as part of a massive rotation of US forces occupying Iraq.
US army tanks rolled in tight formations through the streets of Baghdad and
military helicopters buzzed low over the Tigris river.

These were visible signs of heightened security in the Iraqi capital as the
past week has seen a surge in the number of bombings, shootings and mortar
attacks on the occupation forces, police and civilians.

It was unclear whether the attacks were timed to overshadow the anniversary
of the start of the war.

Situation the 'same'

Iraqis in Baghdad were not sure if much had improved in their lives in the
past year despite the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"After one year of liberation, we were looking forward to rebuilding Iraq
financially. We hope the country will progress, but the situation is the
same as before," said Sabbagh Jaffar.

"The situation on the streets and the economy is the same as a year ago."

Muhammad Ali added he has had the same job as tea maker for seven years.

"I haven't had a new car or anything, I am still a tea maker. Electricity
hasn't improved at  all, what has changed? The Americans should leave, it
would be better for all of us."

US President George Bush marked the anniversary in a speech at the White
House, declaring the fall of Saddam had removed a source of aggression and
instability in the Middle East.

Violent thugs

"There are still violent thugs and murderers in Iraq, and we're dealing with
them," Bush said. "But no one can argue that the Iraqi people would be
better off with the thugs and murderers back in the palaces."

Bush's statements, however, fly in the face of reality on the ground, Iraqis

"The security situation is worse that one year ago. I cannot take my family
outside at night. When I walk in the street, I do not know when a bomb is
going to explode and kill me. We were better secured during Saddam's time,"
said Ammar Samir, 26, an employee of a private trading company.

"The Americans have failed to provide security and prosperity to the Iraqi

Another resident, Saad al-Nuaimi, said the speech was a ploy to attract
voters before the November presidential election in which Iraq policy is
likely to be high on the agenda.

Al-Nuaimi said Washington had "fabricated lies" claiming Iraq had weapons of
mass destruction, though none had been found.

Mosul attack

Meanwhile in Mosul, armed fighters fired mortars at the headquarters of the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on Saturday, killing a passer-by and
wounding three PUK guards and a civilian, police said.

Major Dara al-Surchi, chief of the local police station, said four mortar
rounds had been fired. One of them landed in the street outside the PUK
headquarters and an Iraqi walking past was killed.

Mosul, 390km north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed city - Sunni Arabs
make up the largest group, but there is also a significant Kurdish

The PUK is one of the two main Kurdish parties. Both parties backed the
US-led invasion of Iraq and are represented on Iraq's US-appointed Governing

Also, a US soldier was fatally electrocuted while working on communication
equipment at an American base in Baquba. The incident is under

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