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Iraq: Two Casualties In Grenade Attack On U.S. Patrol In Baghdad

Baghdad, 28 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. says a U.S. patrol was attacked with a grenade in broad daylight in central Baghdad today, and two soldiers may have been killed in the attack. U.S. Lieutenant Brian Ryan said two of his men had been badly wounded in the attack but declined to say whether they had died. Iraqi police said the two were dead.

Before today's attack, the death toll of U.S. soldiers killed in guerrilla strikes since Washington declared an end to major combat on 1 May stood at 49.

General Richard Myers, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday in Baghdad that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is not behind the attacks on U.S. forces.

"In my opinion, if he [former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein] is alive, it's just a matter of time and again, our belief is, he's not having a major effect on what's going on right now, he is so concerned with survival, he's been through these survival modes before, he knows how to do that but we'll find him. It's a big country but we'll find him," Myers said.

Myers said that Hussein is too busy trying to evade capture by U.S. troops to be coordinating attacks on U.S. forces.

Also today, Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council is meeting to elect the chairman of the 25-member body and to appoint ministers. It is the first in a series of key meetings by members of the council to be held this week.

AFP news agency quoted a Western diplomat as saying that a list of names of suitable ministers had already been drawn up by the U.S.-led coalition and submitted to council members.

The Governing Council is charged with forming a convention to draw up a new constitution for the country, which will be subject to a referendum before the first election, expected no earlier than next summer.

The council was formed on 13 July 13 and is to pave the way to a democratically elected Iraqi government. But any decisions by the council can be overruled by U.S. administrator Paul Bremer.