Mr. Bush said Wednesday, ”There are some who feel like conditions are such that they can attack us there.”
“My answer is: Bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation.”
Hours after the president’s statement, a rocket-propelled grenade wounded one U.S. soldier and eleven civilians and killed one Iraqi civilian in Baghdad.
Thursday morning local time, soldiers killed an Iraqi man in a separate clash after the Iraqi opened fire.
“Soldiers were conducting a routine nighttime patrol in a rural part of Baghdad when an Iraqi man attacked the patrol, shooting one of the soldiers,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement. “The soldiers returned fire in self defense, killing the gunman and wounding a boy who was with the gunman.”
In the most serious attack of the day, an explosion wounded six U.S. soldiers traveling in a convoy of Humvees 60 miles west of Baghdad. The six soldiers were taken to a military hospital for treatment.
The latest incidents come in a week of violence and protests throughout Iraq. On Monday, a blast killed nine Iraqis near a mosque in the town of Falluja. Residents of the town, 30 miles west of Baghdad, blamed a U.S. air strike for the explosion. Coalition officials have denied that an air strike caused the blast, but could not confirm whether a bomb-making class in a nearby building was to blame.
About 226,000 British and U.S. troops are charged with peacekeeping duty in Iraq. In September, another 9,200 multinational troops will join those soldiers to help stabilize the country, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian.
While many Iraqis have expressed gratitude for the U.S.-led ouster of former dictator Saddam Hussein, some have said they resent what they see as an American occupation.
At least 23 U.S. troops have been killed in surprise attacks in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1. American officials have largely blamed anti-U.S. Saddam loyalists for the attacks.
Also on Thursday, a spokesman for U.S. Administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer said the U.S. would offer a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam Hussein’s capture, or to proof that he is dead.