Pipeline burns after blast; anchorwoman found slain

In northern Iraq, a major oil fire raged yesterday after insurgents blew up a pipeline and the family of an anchorwoman for a U.S.-funded state television station – a mother of four who was repeatedly shot in the head – found her body dumped on a street in Mosul.

Insurgents, meanwhile, killed two civilians in a roadside bombing west of Baghdad and a suicide car bomber killed an Iraqi national guardsman and injured seven people southwest of the capital.

The U.S. military announced the death Friday of an American soldier killed in a massive security sweep in the Sunni Triangle.

As part of the offensive, residents in Ramadi, the Sunni-dominated city 70 miles west of Baghdad, reported clashes between insurgents and U.S. forces, but the military provided no details. U.S. troops have been conducting an offensive in the region for nearly a week.

The U.S. military said an insurgent was killed and another was injured trying to build a bomb in an abandoned house in Tikrit, Saddam Hu
sein's hometown and the site of a suicide bombing Thursday that killed 15 Iraqi police officers.

The body of Raiedah Mohammed Wageh Wazan, the 35-year-old news presenter for the U.S.-funded Nineveh TV, was found dumped along a Mosul street, six days after she was kidnapped by masked gunmen, according to her husband, who said she had been shot in the head four times.

"This is a criminal act. She was an innocent woman who did not hurt anybody in all her life. I asked her several times to quit for the sake of her safety, but she refused," said Salim Saad-Allah, the husband.

The mother of three boys and a girl had been threatened with death several times by insurgents who demanded she quit her job, Saad-Allah said. The U.S. military confirmed insurgents had threatened station employees.

Attackers hit the oil pipeline late Friday, setting fire to the line running about 20 miles from fields in Dibis to Kirkuk, which is 150 miles north of Baghdad. As the line continued to blaze last night, an official with the state-run North Oil Co. said it would take at least four days to repair it.

Insurgents have regularly targeted Iraq's oil infrastructure, cutting exports and denying the country funds badly needed for reconstruction. Three pipelines were blown up last week.

Acts of sabotage have blocked exports to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, a major outlet for Iraqi crude, for nearly two weeks.

Political activity moved apace yesterday as Shiite political dissenters switched course and rallied behind the prime minister candidacy of conservative Islamic Dawa party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari. The change of heart apparently was linked to Friday's endorsement of al-Jaafari by Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country's most powerful Shiite cleric.

The Shiite Political Council, which has about 30 seats in the newly elected National Assembly, had threatened to withdraw from the United Iraqi Alliance's coalition after it nominated al-Jaafari Tuesday for the powerful post.

The council complained that the clergy-backed alliance, which won 140 seats in Iraq's landmark Jan. 30 election, had forced the withdrawal of Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Shiite who was a former U.S. favorite.

The two civilians killed yesterday were in a car passing as a bomb exploded. Their bodies could be seen slumped in the small, white vehicle that was punctured by shrapnel, its windshield smashed. U.S. Lt. Col. Clifford Kent said a U.S. tank was nearby at the time but was not damaged.

The Iraqi national guardsman was killed by a suicide car bomber near Musayyib, 50 miles southwest of Baghdad, police Capt. Muthana Khalid said. Seven people, including two civilians, were wounded.

By Patrick Quinn February 27, 2005 BAGHDAD, Iraq.

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