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Iraq: Danish Soldier Killed, Two U.S. Soldiers Wounded

Copenhagen, 17 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A Danish soldier has been killed in a clash with Iraqi gunmen in Al-Basrah, Danish Army command in Copenhagen confirmed today. The soldier, the first Danish casualty in Iraq, was killed when his patrol was shot at. Two Iraqis died in the exchange of fire. Denmark has 420 soldiers stationed in southern Iraq.

In Baghdad, a U.S. military spokesman says two U.S. soldiers were shot and wounded as they left a Baghdad restaurant. The spokesman said today the attack occurred yesterday. He said the injuries were not life threatening.

Attacks on occupying U.S. forces, mainly in Baghdad and in surrounding Sunni Muslim areas, have killed 60 U.S. soldiers since Washington declared major combat in Iraq over on 1 May.

Also today, a major water pipeline in northern Baghdad was breached, flooding nearby streets. Officials said it would take at least eight hours to repair the pipeline and that the water supply to areas of northern Baghdad had been cut off.

The cause of the rupture is not known. However, Reuter reported that local residents said they had been woken by a loud blast, and that the pipeline may have been attacked by explosives.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Army spokeswoman said repairs to Iraq's key oil-export pipeline to Turkey, which has been damaged in an explosion, may take at least two weeks. Spokeswoman Nicole Thompson said in Baghdad today that a team of experts is now at the site of the blast, in northern Iraq.

Her estimate of the time needed contrasts with that of Iraq's top oil official, Thamir Ghadban, who said yesterday that the repairs would only take several days. Ghadban said he believed Friday's (15 August) explosion was an act of sabotage. He said that Iraq was losing about 250,000 barrels per day in exports because of the sabotage, meaning a daily loss of more than $6 million in revenues badly needed for reconstruction.

Ghadban said oil pipelines in Iraq are an important part of the country's reconstruction efforts. "Our call is that [we] ask everybody concerned in Iraq to keep those pipelines running safely because in that there are lots of benefits to the people of Iraq," he said.

The blast on the pipeline from northern Iraq to the Turkish terminal of Ceyhan came just two days after it was reopened following the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein. It is the latest in a series of attacks on oil installations.