14 Marines Killed In Al-Anbar

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Fourteen US Marines and their civilian translator were killed by a roadside bomb blast in north-western Iraq early yesterday.

The Marines were killed in action when their armoured vehicle was hit by an ‘improvised explosive device’, the US military said.

The US military statement added that one other Marine was wounded in the bombing.

It was one of the deadliest attacks on US forces since the March 2003 invasion.

The blast occurred near the city of Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, in the same area where on Monday seven US marines were killed by insurgent gunfire.

Haditha is in Al Anbar province near the Syrian border, an area that has seen frequent insurgent assaults against US troops.

The fourteen Marines killed yesterday were assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

The US military said the attack occurred during combat operations near Haditha.

Names of those killed are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the US Department of Defence.

The latest deaths bring the number of US military personnel killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 1,811.

This week, so far 21 US Marines have been killed in Al-Anbar province.

Of these, 20 died near Haditha, while a US military statement said that one Marine was killed on Monday near the town of Hit, 170 kilometres (105 miles) west of Baghdad, when hit by a suicide car bomber.

Masked fighters appeared in the Haditha public market Monday afternoon displaying flak jackets, helmets, and other equipment they said were taken from the bodies of the six dead Marines.

Meanwhile, Ansar al-Sunna, an extremist group linked with the Al-Qaeda network, said in an Internet statement yesterday that it had killed eight US marines and captured a ninth in western Iraq.

Ansar al-Sunna said in the Internet posting that it had killed some of the marines by ‘slitting their throats’, while others were shot. The statement could not be verified.

It also said that its fighters had captured a ninth US marine ‘who was wounded in an ambush . . . near Haditha.’

The group vowed to publish more details on the killings and pictures of the ‘American prisoner’ later.

Ansar al-Sunna has claimed a string of attacks in Iraq, including killings of foreign hostages and Iraqis accused of collaborating with US-led forces.

• Second news article:

‘COME CLEAN’ OVER JOB LOSSES – CWU tells Royal Mail

THE Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has expressed concern about the timing of Royal Mail’s announcement that a second ‘Share in Success’ scheme is to be introduced.

Royal Mail has said the scheme – discussed without the union’s involvement – is designed to pay out £400 if the business hits a higher profit target next year of £600 million.

The previous scheme paid £1,050 to every postal worker based on three-year profit targets.

Responding to the announcement, CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: ‘The union has always said it has no problem with our members sharing in the success of Royal Mail, but we strongly believe basic pensionable pay should be the number one priority.

‘We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Royal Mail Board and government to address our legitimate concerns.

‘In particular, we want the company to be more honest with employees about their long-term agenda.

‘The truth is the profit targets announced can only be achieved through significant job losses and major changes to our members’ terms and conditions.

‘It is time Royal Mail came clean with their real plans and discuss them openly with the CWU.

‘We will also be demanding Royal Mail honour the commitment in this year’s pay deal to make higher, basic pensionable pay everybody’s number one priority.

‘The government must also state publicly whether they have sanctioned the latest scheme in light of the accepted need for long-term investment in the industry.’