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Presidents Press for On-Time Iraqi Elections

President Bush said, sitting beside al-Yawer, ”I think that the capacity of these killers to stop an election would send a wrong signal to the world and send a wrong signal to the Iraqi people themselves.”

Al-Yawer agreed. “After all these sacrifices, there’s no way on Earth that we will let it go in vain,” the Iraqi leader said.

On Monday, fighting erupted in Baghdad on Haifa Street, a thoroughfare in central Baghdad, where rebels were looking for Iraqis working with U.S.-led forces.

Insurgents shot and killed a man they said was working for the Americans, the Associated Press reported. Though the U.S. military did not comment, witnesses said U.S. troops with armored vehicles attacked the gunmen.

Insurgents and U.S. forces also clashed Monday in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, in the Anbar province, killing three insurgents and wounding four others.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said three soldiers died in two incidents Sunday in western province that includes Fallujah and Ramadi. Also, the military said two Marines were killed in action in Anbar Friday.

On Sunday gunmen opened fire at a bus of Iraqis working for the coalition forces near a weapons dump in Tikrit, 80 miles northwest of Baghdad, said Capt. Bill Coppernoll, spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division.

According to Coppernoll, 17 civilians died and 13 were wounded in the attack. When the bus arrived at 8:30 a.m. two vehicles of insurgents met it, with one blocking the bus’ path. Seven men came out of the vehicles and fired AK-47 rifles “until they ran out of ammunition, then fled the scene,” Coppernoll said.

Iraq’s extremist group Ansar al-Sunnah Army claimed responsibility for the attack in Tikrit in a statement on the group’s Web site.

“We tell all those who work with the crusaders: ‘This is your fate sooner or later. We’re setting up ambushes for you. Repent … to save your lives,” said the statement.

A car bomb detonated an hour later when a suicide car bomber drove into an Iraqi National Guard checkpoint in Beiji, 75 miles to the north, Coppernoll said. Three guardsmen, including a commander, were killed and 18 wounded.

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