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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Ambulance Hit by RPG

Aired June 19, 2003 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We are watching a very critical story again today in Baghdad. Another American has been killed, two others wounded in Iraq when an RPG, a rocket propelled grenade, was fired at an ambulance.
Barbara Starr has more from the Pentagon.

Barbara, what are you learning there?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was another difficult day for U.S. troops in Baghdad. These very disturbing pictures coming in. One U.S. soldier was killed, two wounded when this ambulance was hit by a rocket propelled grenade and other small arms fire when it was traveling south of Baghdad.

The ambulance, we are told, was carrying another wounded U.S. soldier, wounded in another unrelated incident. This makes 52 soldiers killed in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat was over back on the 1st of May. Of those 52 soldiers, 16 of them have died in hostile incidents. This is the third attack on U.S. forces or facilities in the last 24 hours.

Now, of course, U.S. forces had been conducting the sweeps across the area of Baghdad west of the city and even north of Baghdad, trying to route out what they say is an -- excuse me -- are the last areas of opposition, but this attack today making it very clear, U.S. Forces are still clearly being targeted by those who oppose the presence in the country -- Bill.

HEMMER: Barbara, what is the thinking of the Pentagon? Is this coordinated in some sort of central fashion in Iraq, or is this more hit and run depending on who's leading the charge and also where the responsibility may lie?

STARR: That's a fascinating question, because yesterday Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked that very point, and he admitted and acknowledged that there was some debate, as he said, within the administration about whether or not these were organized attacks.

Officials, military officials, are saying they don't see anything resembling what they would call a campaign plan, a highly organized effort, but there is a growing question in the administration about whether or not there is some organization behind some of this.

One of the things they do believe is some Baath Party loyalists, some loyalists to Saddam Hussein have assembled some money and some organization, and that they are paying people to conduct these types of attacks. So that's why you're seeing some of the organized raids by U.S. forces across Iraq. They want to go after these people, and of course, just in the last 24 to 48 hours, they conducted that major raid in Tikrit in the north, where they seized a number of key people and a large amount of cash and weapons. They felt that was one of the examples of one of the cells, if you will, of people that are supports these attackers. So we expect to see a lot more of this before it's all over -- Bill.

HEMMER: Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

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