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Iraq: Suicide Bomber Injures Marines As Pockets Of Resistance Remain

Prague, 10 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Contradictory reports are coming tonight from U.S. military sources in Baghdad about a suicide attack against coalition forces in the capital. Marines Major Matt Baker said "some" Marines were killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint near the Palestine Hotel, where most foreign journalists are staying.

Another Marines officer, Captain Joe Plenzler, said four Marines were wounded in the attack.

U.S. troops today continued to battle Iraqi fighters in parts of Baghdad today as looting continued in the capital. At dusk, powerful explosions shook the Old Palace presidential compound in the center.

Reuters news agency reports that armed Iraqis were holding much of northwestern Baghdad.

Military spokesman Major General Victor Renuart today warned that the war was "a long way" from being over.

"Despite what you see in terms of localized euphoria in places and in some of the (Iraqi) cities, this operation is a long way from complete. We have localized pockets throughout the area of the greater Baghdad area that we have to deal with and we have a number of areas throughout the country that are not yet stabilized."

In Al-Najaf, south of Baghdad, senior Iraqi Shi'ite leader Abdul Majid al-Khoei was assassinated at a mosque in unclear circumstances. The White House strongly condemned the killing.

U.S. military also said special forces are attacking Iraqi positions in the western town of Al-Qaim.

In the north, oil-rich Kirkuk today fell to coalition-backed Kurdish fighters, while neighboring Turkey announced it has obtained U.S. approval to send military observers to the town.

Coalition warplanes meanwhile were bombing elements of Iraq's Republican Guard around the northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit.