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Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
"We're on your side," Mongolian President Natsagiyn Bagabandi, a former Soviet cosmonaut, said to President Bush in Washington last April, according to a Western diplomat. "We've had problems with Iraq ourselves."
The country of the fierce Mongol hordes best known for descending from Central Asia's frigid steppes to slay every man, woman and child in any city that refused to submit, has transformed itself into an international peacekeeper. Since 1999, Mongolia has dispatched members of a former Special Forces battalion to global hot spots in the Western Sahara, Congo, Afghanistan and, as of September, Iraq.
Yesterday, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reviewed the line of Mongolian soldiers, arrayed here in 7-degree-below-zero temperatures, who will begin replacing the 173 Mongolian troops in Iraq later this month.
Blast outside police station leaves two dead, 14 injured
BAQUBA, Iraq A suspected car bomb exploded outside a police station in the central Iraqi town of Baquba today, killing at least two civilians and wounding 14 police officers, local police said.
A police officer said he saw a white car racing toward the police station before exploding. Witnesses said many people were thrown to the ground and several of them appeared to have been killed.
"There were two civilians killed in the street and at least 14 people were injured, all of them police," said the policeman, who would not give his name or rank. The bomber was also killed.
Doctors at a local hospital said that at least two people had died and said more than a dozen others had been brought in with injuries sustained in the blast.
Baquba, about 40 miles north of Baghdad, is a hotbed of anti-American insurgency that has grown increasingly restive in recent months. U.S. forces carry out near daily raids in and around the town searching for guerrilla suspects.
Car-bomb attacks on police stations in Baquba and Khan Bani Saad in November killed 16 people and wounded more than 30.
WASHINGTON Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday called a U.S. military trial of Saddam Hussein unlikely but did not rule it out, and said the United States reserved the right to change his prisoner-of-war legal status.
Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council is setting up a war-crimes tribunal to try the former Iraqi president, captured Dec. 13. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority said last month it has trained Iraqi judges and lawyers to try Saddam and his entourage on charges that might include genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Pentagon announced Friday that the United States had declared the 66-year-old captive an enemy prisoner of war who was due rights under the Geneva Convention.
Asked whether the Bush administration intended to conduct a U.S. military trial of Saddam or to turn him over to the Iraqi people for trial, Rumsfeld was noncommittal, saying that "my impression is that the president is leaning toward having the Iraqis play a significant role."
Rumsfeld said a U.S. military trial was "into the lower end of the probability range, I would think."
U.S. soldiers arrested an imam (Muslim prayer leader) in Jabal in central Iraq after a speaker at his mosque used evening prayers to incite attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqi police, U.S. army spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle told reporters in Tikrit yesterday. ... Guerrilla attacks on coalition soldiers in Iraq have dropped sharply since the Dec. 13 capture of Saddam Hussein, and the number of troops killed and wounded has plummeted as well, the military said yesterday.
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