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Violence, Corruption Impede Iraq Reconstruction


U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint in Baghdad on October 30 (epa) October 31, 2006 -- A new U.S. government report says violence, corruption, and bureaucratic obstacles are continuing to hinder reconstruction in Iraq.

The Office of the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction
said in its quarterly report that sniper attacks and death threats
against work crews have made it nearly impossible to repair electricity
service in the capital, Baghdad.

The report recommends that the Iraqi
government meet specific goals marking progress in order to receive
future reconstruction aid.

In other news, the U.S. Defense Department says there are now some 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq -- the highest number since forces were built up for the December 2005 Iraqi elections.

Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mark Ballesteros said some of the new increase is due to overlapping unit rotations -- that is, some units have come into Iraq as others have been preparing to leave.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month hit 103 today with the announcement of the deaths of two more soldiers in Baghdad. The military said both soldiers were killed on October 30 in separate incidents, one by gunfire and another by a roadside bomb.

This month's death toll is the fourth-highest since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

(compiled from agency reports)
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