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6/19/04 - MORE VIOLENCE IN IRAQ - 2004-06-21

On June 17th, terrorists set off a devastating car bomb in Baghdad. More than thirty-five people were killed, most of them young Iraqi men waiting outside an Iraqi army recruiting center. The same day, a half dozen Iraqis were killed in a terrorist bombing in a village north of Baghdad. Earlier in the week, on June 14th, a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with explosives into a convoy of foreign contractors in Baghdad. At least thirteen people were killed. At about the same time, two more bombs exploded -- one south of the capital, one to the north. Those attacks killed eight people. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says foreign terrorists and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship are doing whatever they can to disrupt the chance for peace and security in Iraq:

“They are now challenging their own leaders. They are now fighting against the dreams of their own people. The coalition is there to help their government, and they are now attacking their own government and they are attacking their own interests and the interests of their own people. And they must be defeated. They cannot be allowed to deny the Iraqi people this hopeful future. They cannot be allowed to drag them into the past.”

White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says the U.S.-led coalition expects more attempts by terrorists to cause chaos in the days leading up to the July 1st hand-over of power to the new interim Iraqi government:

“We know that the period leading up to sovereignty and, indeed, the period immediately after sovereignty is likely to be one in which the terrorists and the Saddam loyalists enhance their efforts at violence.”

Nevertheless, says Ms. Rice, the hopes and dreams of the Iraq people must and will prevail:

“The transfer of sovereignty is a milestone for the Iraqi people on their way to freedom and liberty and to a better life. These are people who are trying to stop it. But we have good partners now in this Iraqi government who will be tough, we believe, on terrorism, tough on the insurgents who are trying to stop progress.”

And the United States and the international coalition will stand with the Iraqi people. As President George W. Bush says, ‘the coalition will not be intimidated or diverted. On July 1st, and beyond, our reconstruction and military commitment will continue.”