Pinprick attacks on US forces mount worldwide
Tuesday's shooting of two US Marines in Kuwait stirs doubts about American troops' safety, even in friendly states.
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US troops deployed in the Philippines last spring to help the Manila government overcome Abu Sayyaf guerrillas, and have overwhelming public support. But last week, a bombing conducted by a man on a motorcycle killed one American soldier and wounded 23 people outside an open-air restaurant and karaoke bar near a military camp occupied by US and Philippine troops in the city of Zamboanga, some 500 miles south of Manila.Skip to next paragraph
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In Korea, where 37,000 US troops are deployed, an angry mob last month briefly abducted an American soldier and forced him to make apologies in a university stadium, over an incident last June in which two Korean girls were accidentally run over by a US armored vehicle.
Such incidents are growing as US forces expand operations to include deployments in the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and even to Djibouti and Yemen.
Some former Pentagon officials and analysts say that the US risks compromising its fight against Al Qaeda by turning its focus on Iraq - an argument President George Bush rejected in a speech on Monday night.
He accused Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein of being a "murderous tyrant" who posed a "unique" threat to global security. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri echoing voices easily found across Arabia - accused Mr. Bush of using "misleading information ... to justify an illogical and illegitimate attack on Iraq."
The problem may deepen in Iraq, even if Mr. Hussein is ousted or overthrown by US troops, says an Iraqi woman speaking in Jordan, who would only give her name as Umm Thaer, or "mother of Thaer."
"Every Iraqi is going to fight against the Americans, because no Iraqi will accept foreigners," she says. "Even my son, who is 14, could hold a rifle and fight the Americans."
"The Iraqi people will be angry and stand against the Americans, and fight to the last man," says a Palestinian shoemaker in Jordan called Bilal. "they will have suicide bombs. It will be the same as in Palestine."
Retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, a former CIA director, says that even in Kuwait, "when you are in an area where so many people are opposed to the United States as anywhere in the Middle East today you have to be doubly careful. I suspect ... we have to change our method of operation."
"I can't recall doing an exercise where there was concern that there would be an enemy attack. This is a new world we are in, I'm afraid." says Admiral Turner.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. David Lapan said that no Kuwaiti soldiers were involved in the training exercise at the time of Tuesday's shooting. "The information we have not is that they were civilians. They appear not to be Kuwaiti military."
A security source in Kuwait told Agence France-Presse that 26 people were taken into custody shortly after the incident.
The shooting occurred on Failaka Island off Kuwait's coast, Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense spokesman Brig. Ahmed al-Rahmani said. The normally uninhabited island is about 10 miles east of Kuwait City and about 30 miles south of the southernmost tip of Iraq. American and Kuwaiti forces have been training together since the end of the US-led Gulf War. A Kuwaiti-US. defense pact signed after the war calls for yearlong exercises.
Staff writer David T. Cook in Washington contributed and material from the wire services was used in this report.