Source Pravda.Ru

More attacks expected before the Iraqi elections

Authorities in Iraq have extended the country’s state of emergency as fresh attacks killed nine United States soldiers.

A roadside bomb killed seven troops in north-west &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/war/2003/04/07/45674.html ' target=_blank>Baghdad last night while two marines were killed in a separate incident in the Anbar province.

Iraq’s interim Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, said he expected the number of attacks to rise before the January 30 elections. He said the extension to the state of emergency, which gives authorities special powers to fight rebels, was a precaution, informs the Scotsman.

"These are tragic incidents but they don't lessen our resolve to complete our mission ... of securing the streets, going after insurgents and providing a safe environment for the coming election," Lt.-Col. Steven Boylan, a senior military spokesman, said on Friday.

Iraq's U.S.-backed interim government extended a state of emergency by 30 days to battle Sunni Arab guerrillas who are escalating bombings and assassinations aimed at sabotaging the national ballot, which majority Shi'ites are poised to dominate.

Lieutenant-General Thomas Metz, senior U.S. ground commander in Iraq, said on Thursday four of the country's 18 provinces remained too insecure for elections and that he could "not guarantee that every person who wants to vote ... can do that safely", reports Swissinfo.

But most &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/10/21/18713.html ' target=_blank>Iraqis have little faith in their new security services, which seem hardly able to protect themselves from an insurgent onslaught that has killed hundreds of officers.

Also on Friday, French officials said they did not yet know whether a French woman journalist missing in Iraq since Wednesday had been taken hostage.

Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said France was working with Iraqi authorities to find Florence Aubenas, of the Liberation daily, and her interpreter. A diplomatic source said Aubenas could have been killed, injured, kidnapped or arrested.

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