KUT, Iraq (AP) — Ukrainian soldiers fired into the air
yesterday to disperse hundreds of Iraqis who rioted for jobs and
food as a second southern Shiite Muslim city was rocked by unrest
— a barometer of rising frustration with the U.S.
led-occupation in a region of Iraq considered friendly to the
Americans.

Mira Levitan
Iraqi school children wait quietly yesterday as Iraqi police officers pass out flyers asking the children to help coalition forces near Ramadi, Iraq. (AP PHOTO)

Also yesterday, a roadside bomb in the capital killed one
American soldier and wounded two, bringing the U.S. death toll in
the Iraqi conflict to 495. Large explosions rocked central Baghdad
later in the day, but officials reported no casualties.

Trouble started in Kut, 95 miles southeast of Baghdad, when
about 400 protesters marched for a third straight day on a
government building to demand jobs.

Someone in the crowd threw a grenade at police and Ukrainian
soldiers guarding the building, injuring four Iraqi policemen and
one Ukrainian, according to Lt. Zafer Wedad.

The Ukrainians then fired in the air to disperse the crowd,
injuring one protester, Wedad said. He said the demonstrators
hurled bricks at the building and trashed a post office in the
city.

In a similar protest in Amarah on Sunday, waves of protesters
rushed British troops guarding the city hall before being pushed
back. On Saturday, clashes in Amarah killed six protesters and
wounded at least 11.

Unrest in the Shiite areas has spread as the country’s
leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani,
has spoken out against the U.S.-backed formula for transferring
power to the Iraqis.

In a full-page newspaper advertisement yesterday, al-Sistani
repeated his demand that a proposed provisional legislature be
elected rather than chosen by regional committees as called for
under a plan endorsed by the U.S.-led coalition and the Iraqi
Governing Council.

Al-Sistani is highly influential among Iraq’s majority
Shiites.

No details were available about the death in Baghdad of the 1st
Armored Division soldier. Most of the U.S. deaths in Iraq have
occurred since President Bush declared an end to major combat on
May 1.

Still, U.S. officials said yesterday that insurgent attacks
against coalition forces declined to an average of 17 a day in the
past week, compared to 30 a day before Saddam Hussein was captured
on Dec. 13. Most of the attacks are believed carried out by
supporters of the ousted regime.

In the late yesterday blasts, Iraqi and U.S. security officials
said at least two mortars exploded near the Baghdad Hotel in the
center of the capital. At least one round exploded in the Tigris
River and the other exploded on the river bank, U.S. troops said.
There were no casualties, the Americans said.

Also yesterday, another roadside bomb exploded near an Army
convoy in Ramadi, a town west of Baghdad, but the military said no
U.S. casualties were reported. Residents said two Iraqis were
killed when the Americans opened fire after the attack.

On Friday, U.S. soldiers uncovered a “large weapons
cache” with the help of an Iraqi in Ramadi, the U.S. military
said in a statement yesterday.

It said the Iraqi led the troops to a house, where they found
dozens of rocket-propelled grenades and a handful of launchers,
nearly 220 pounds of explosives, 16 remote controlled homemade
bombs and two surface-to-air missiles, the military said in a
statement.

Also acting on an Iraqi tip, U.S. soldiers shot dead seven of
the estimated 40 members of an armed gang allegedly trying to steal
oil from a pipeline south of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad,
the Army said Monday.

Meanwhile, the Danish army said Monday that results of a new
series of tests to determine whether 36 shells buried in the
southern Iraqi desert contain a liquid blister agent could be
expected by the end of the week. The shells, thought to be left
over from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, were uncovered last week.

Separately, the top U.S. administrator, L. Paul Bremer, said the
United States is opposed to the maintenance of armed militias by
Iraqi political parties. Groups vying to fill the country’s
power vacuum will have to lay down arms in a future democracy, he
said.

“In a unified Iraq there is no place for political parties
having armed groups,” Bremer told reporters.

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