Police officers acting on a tip about several kidnapped colleagues rode into deadly insurgent ambushes near here on Thursday, resulting in two intense battles that left at least 42 people dead, including 24 police officers, officials said.
Five American service members were killed Wednesday in Anbar Province, the military command reported Thursday, raising the American death toll in October to at least 96, one of the worst monthly tolls of the war.
The insurgent ambushes came as dozens of police officers converged on an area between Baquba and Baghdad, near a town called Khan Bani Saad. Word had come down late on Wednesday from the Interior Ministry that several Iraqi policemen who had been kidnapped days earlier near Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, were being held south of there, and province officials ordered a raid. But as the police officers rode out, what they found was a large and well-armed Sunni insurgent force. A spokesman for the joint Iraqi-American command center in Baquba described the clashes as "very violent, brutal and heavy."
The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Kirk Semple's "42 Iraqis Die as Insurgents Attack Police Near Baquba" in this morning's New York Times. Bothered by that news? Well, 'just back off!' Martha notes Jonathan Weisman and Ann Scott Tyson's "Rumsfeld Tells Iraq Critics to 'Back Off'" (Washington Post):
With his chorus of critics expanding deeper into Republican ranks, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told detractors yesterday to pull back as U.S. and Iraqi officials grapple with the uncertainties of laying out Iraq's course.
"You ought to just back off, take a look at it, relax, understand that it's complicated, it's difficult," Rumsfeld said, appearing unusually combative as he sparred with reporters at the Pentagon. "Honorable people are working on these things together," he said, adding emphatically that "no daylight" exists between the U.S. and Iraqi sides.
Rumsfeld's statements are as laughable as Patricia Heaton's looks (pre and post surgery). That is a "known." Another "known" is that Rumsfeld's done a lousy job.
Charlie notes Jack Douglas Jr.'s "Fighting-vehicle repair work piling up" (McClatchy Newspapers):
TEXARKANA, Texas -- As bullet-riddled, bomb-scarred fighting vehicles are slowly towed into the production lines of the Red River Army Depot in northeast Texas, 57-year-old Elnora Harris often wonders about the young soldiers who have been in them, traveling in harm's way through the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is a prevailing thought that hangs over the 3,100 civilian employees at this bustling U.S. Army depot, 15 miles west of Texarkana, which came close to being closed last year until the government decided it was needed. The depot rebuilds thousands of disabled war machines -- some ripped to shreds by enemy fire -- that American troops depend on for safe travel in battle zones.
In a business made brisk by world conflict, Red River officials say they do not have enough money or manpower to keep up with the incoming shipments of crippled combat vehicles. Row after row of disabled Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, cargo trucks and ambulances line the back lots of the depot -- a graveyard of metal.
Between 6,200 and 7,000 battle-worn vehicles are parked on those lots, and officials say it would cost as much as $65,000 to fix each of the Humvees and $500,000 to $1 million to repair each Bradley. A new battle-worthy Humvee, decked out with high-tech communication gear and state-of the-art armor, costs the government about $190,000. A big Bradley costs $2.2 million, Army officials said.
Even if they are not hit by a bomb or blasted by gunfire, Humvees sustain seven times the wear and tear during war as they do in peace time, making it all the more important that rebuilding them is done efficiently, a Texas congressman said.
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