A year after Americans were to be greeted with dancing in the streets, we have this still happening.....
Nine Die in Day of Violence in Iraq[/b]Iraqis Mutilate Bodies of Contractors, Including Three Americans; Five GIs Killed
FALLUJAH, Iraq (March 31) - Jubilant residents dragged the charred corpses of four foreign contractors through the streets Wednesday and hanged them from the bridge spanning the Euphrates River. Three of four contractors who were killed in an ambush in Falluja are U.S. citizens, a State Department official said.
"We've identified three of the four as Americans," said the official, who asked not to be identified.
Meanwhile, five American soldiers died in a roadside bombing nearby.
The four contract workers for the U.S.-led coalition were killed in a rebel ambush of their SUVs in Fallujah, a Sunni Triangle city about 35 miles west of Baghdad and scene of some of the worst violence on both sides of the conflict since the beginning of the American occupation a year ago.
It was reminiscent of the 1993 scene in Somalia, when a mob dragged the corpse of a U.S. soldier through the streets of Mogadishu, eventually leading to the American withdrawal from the African nation.
The White house earlier vowed that the United States would stay the course in Iraq despite another bloody day.
''These are horrific attacks by people who are trying to prevent democracy from moving forward, but democracy is taking root,'' said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. He said the United States was holding fast to a June 30 deadline for handing over power in Iraq to a transitional Iraqi government.
In one of the bloodiest days for the U.S. military this year, five 1st Infantry Division soldiers died when their M-113 armored personnel carrier ran over a bomb in a separate incident 12 miles to the northwest, among the reed-lined roads running through some of Iraq's richest farmland.
Residents said the bomb attack occurred in Malahma, 12 miles northwest of Fallujah, where anti-U.S. insurgents are active. U.S. Marines operate in the area, but it was unclear whether the slain troops were Marines.
The White House blamed terrorists and remnants of Saddam's former regime for the ''horrific attacks.''
''There are some that are doing everything they can to try to prevent'' a June 30 transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
''There are terrorists, there are some remnants of the former regime that are enemies of freedom and enemies of democracy, but democracy is taking root and we are making important progress,'' McClellan added. ''We will not turn back from that effort.''
In the deadliest previous incident this year, nine soldiers were killed when their Black Hawk medevac helicopter crashed near Fallujah, apparently after being shot down.
In Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the four killed in Fallujah were contractors working with the coalition. He did not say what they were doing in the city.
Chanting ''Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans,'' residents cheered after the grisly assault on two four-wheel-drive civilian vehicles, which left both in flames. Others chanted, ''We sacrifice our blood and souls for Islam.''
Associated Press Television News pictures showed one man beating a charred corpse with a metal pole. Others tied a yellow rope to a body, hooked it to a car and dragged it down the main street of town. Two blackened and mangled corpses were hung from a green iron bridge across the Euphrates.
''The people of Fallujah hanged some of the bodies on the old bridge like slaughtered sheep,'' resident Abdul Aziz Mohammed said. Some of the corpses were dismembered, he said.
Beneath the bodies, a man held a printed sign with a skull and crossbones and the phrase ''Fallujah is the cemetery for Americans.''
APTN showed the charred remains of three slain men. Some were wearing flak jackets, said resident Safa Mohammedi.
One resident displayed what appeared to be dog tags taken from one body. Residents also said there were weapons in the targeted cars. APTN showed one American passport near a body and a U.S. Department of Defense identification card belonging to another man.
U.S. military officials in Washington said the situation was still confused but they did not think the victims were American soldiers and believed the SUVs were not American military vehicles.
Witnesses said the two vehicles were attacked with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades.
Hours after the attack, the city was quiet. No U.S. troops or Iraqi police were seen in the area.
Fallujah is in the so-called Sunni Triangle, where support for Saddam Hussein was strong and rebels often carry out attacks against American forces.
In nearby Ramadi, insurgents threw a grenade at a government building and Iraqi security forces returned fire Wednesday, witnesses said. It was not clear if there were casualties.
Also in Ramadi, a roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. convoy, witnesses said. U.S. officials in Baghdad could not confirm the attack.
On Tuesday in Ramadi, one U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded in a roadside bombing, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt.
Northeast of Baghdad, in the city of Baqouba on Wednesday, a suicide bomber blew up explosives in his car when he was near a convoy of government vehicles, wounding 14 Iraqis and killing himself, officials said.
The attacked convoy is normally used to transport the Diala provincial governor, Abdullah al-Joubori, but he was elsewhere at the time, said police Col. Ali Hossein.
On Tuesday, a suicide bombing outside the house of a police chief in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, killed the attacker and wounded seven others.
A bomb exploded late Tuesday in a movie theater that had closed for the night. Two bystanders were wounded by flying glass, said its owner, Ghani Mohammed.
The latest violence came two days after Carina Perelli, the head of a U.N. electoral team, said better security is vital if Iraq wants to hold elections by a Jan. 31 deadline. The polls are scheduled to follow a June 30 transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government.
Top U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said Tuesday he had appointed 21 anti-corruption inspectors general to government departments to try to prevent fraud. More will be named in coming days, he said.
The inspectors will work with two other newly formed, independent agencies. Together, they will ''form an integrated approach intended to combat corruption at every level of government across the country,'' Bremer said.