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Fourteen die in Baghdad clashes

U.S. warns 'day of resistance' planned

A crowd chants slogans after clashes with U.S. forces in the outskirts of Baghdad Friday.
A crowd chants slogans after clashes with U.S. forces in the outskirts of Baghdad Friday.

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A week of car bombs and killings has left Iraqis bitter and pessimistic about the United States and the prospect of peace. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports. (October 31)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Clashes between unruly Iraqi mobs and coalition forces using tanks and air support left 14 Iraqis dead and five wounded, a U.S. source said early Friday evening.

The fatal fights, which lasted 7 1/2 hours on the western outskirts of Baghdad Friday, came as the U.S. Consulate in Baghdad warned Americans to take precautions, citing rumors of a "day of resistance" planned for this weekend.

A number of days has been mentioned for possible attacks, but the common one is Saturday.

Coalition forces suffered no casualties during the day's battles, said the source from the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division.

It is not clear how the fighting started, but the source said a crowd of 500 to 1,000 Iraqis started throwing rocks at a coalition patrol from the 2-70 Armored Regiment, and began burning tires and "being disruptive."

Some in the crowd carried pictures of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, the source said, while others carried religious banners including one reading: "Ramadan makes you closer to God."

A resident of the area told CNN the people were protesting the coalition's imprisonment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison. The coalition source said the battle centered on the Abu Ghraib market and police station.

The conflict escalated after people in the crowd fired mortars at the police station.

"The decision was made then to turn them (the crowd) back," the coalition officer said.

Armored tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air assets, MPs and Iraqi police joined in the battle, the coalition source said.

An Iraqi police lieutenant said one of his colleagues was killed, but CNN could not confirm that, and the source said the coalition's report did not mention any Iraqi police deaths.

The source said coalition troops entered two mosques near the battle scene and found a small quantity of weapons in each.

Attacks against U.S. forces and Iraqi police have escalated recently, with the most dramatic and bloodiest day coming Monday. More than 30 people were killed then in four suicide bombings in Baghdad, including an assault on the International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters.

Friday's death raises the U.S. combat death toll to 118 since President Bush declared an end to major hostilities May 1.

Waiting for 'day of resistance'

The U.S. Consulate Office in Baghdad issued a statement saying, "there are a number of rumors of a 'day of resistance' throughout Baghdad on Saturday and Sunday, November 1 and 2."

"U.S. citizens are encouraged to continue to maintain a high level of vigilance and continue to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. The U.S. Consular Office will be open for emergency services."

Also, the Army's 1st Armored Division -- in charge of U.S. troops in Baghdad -- said they have stepped up their security presence in the city over the past few days.

The State Department Friday warned Americans not to travel to Iraq, advising them that international organizations have reduced their staffs as a result of recent increased attacks and civil aviation has been threatened.

Australia said it has received "credible reports of imminent terrorist threats to the district of the al Hamra hotel in central Baghdad" and advised all Australians in Iraq to leave the country and defer all travel to the country.

Other developments

• A U.S. soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division was killed Friday and four others wounded when a homemade bomb exploded near Khaldiya, a town west of Baghdad, a spokesman with the U.S.-led coalition said. Elsewhere, a  bomb exploded outside the mayor's office in Fallujah, west of Baghdad. No word of casualties in the explosion was available, but several police, one attacker and some nearby civilians were wounded in the firefight that followed, an eyewitness said.

• One U.S.-led coalition official said threats against Iraqis are coming mostly to schools, where men with their heads covered in black cloth, have threatened students, teachers and families. The threats say no one will be safe and police stations, schools, markets, mosques, hotels and nongovernmental organizations will be targeted regardless of women and children in the areas, the official said.

• U.S. forces are ferreting out Saddam through the Tikrit area, his ancestral homeland. The military is cordoning off Al Owja, a town five miles south of downtown Tikrit and Saddam's birthplace. Lt. Col. Steve Russell, a 4th Infantry Division battalion commander, said there is one entry/exit point to the town.

• A Friday noon deadline for the White House, State Department, Pentagon and CIA to deliver documents relevant to its investigation into prewar intelligence to the Senate Intelligence Committee passed with partial compliance. One staff member said, "Some things are coming in."

• U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday he will appoint a team of experts to investigate security flaws that led to the August attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people.

• The U.S. State Department said it would offer up to $5 million for information leading to the capture of Abu Musab al Zarqawi -- a Jordanian with ties to al Qaeda and the suspected mastermind of the deadly August bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad. (Full story)

• On Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives approved the $87 billion Iraq and Afghanistan spending bill, clearing the way for final Senate approval and a presidential signature in the coming days.  The 298-121 vote came after the Senate stripped from the bill a controversial provision requiring that half the $18.4 billion for Iraq reconstruction projects be loans, not grants. (Full story)

• A gruesome videotape obtained by CNN from independent sources allegedly shows the brutal punishment administered by the Fedayeen Saddam, young soldiers recruited from regions loyal to Saddam. U.S. troops found the video in April, according to Pentagon sources. (Full story)


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