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U.S. General Won't Guarantee Peaceful Iraqi Elections

Iraq is girding for 30 January elections 15 January 2005 -- A U.S. commander in Iraq said today that American-led forces will not be able to guarantee a peaceful election day in parts of Baghdad and other places in Iraq.

Brigadier General Jeffery Hammond told reporters that the U.S. military is preparing for a surge of insurgent attacks to intimidate voters as the 30 January election day draws near.

Hammond said Iraqi forces will have the main responsibility for protecting polling places on the voting day, but said U.S. forces will be standing by to react rapidly.

U.S. military officials have said previously that four of Iraq's 18 provinces -- holding nearly one-quarter of Iraq's population -- could be too dangerous for significant voter participation.

In violence yesterday, Iraqi security officers said 15 Iraqi soldiers were missing and feared kidnapped after insurgents attacked their bus with rocket-propelled grenades in Anbar Province, where the soldiers were involved in work at a U.S. military base.


[For more on events in Iraq, see RFE/RL's dedicated The New Iraq webpage.]