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New details also emerged about clashes on Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, which left five Americans dead. Lt. Col. Scott R. Bleichwehl, an American military spokesman, said the gunmen who stormed the provincial governor’s office during a meeting between American and local officials were wearing what appeared to be American military uniforms in an effort to impersonate United States soldiers.
Karbala’s provincial governor, Akeel al-Khazaali, said at a news conference that the local police at a checkpoint on the city’s edge waved the vehicles through because they believed the convoy held important Americans. At other checkpoints, the police said, the vehicles sped through without stopping. In one case, some of the impersonators fired their weapons, and when they reached the provincial offices, they simply attacked.
The police in Babil said the disguises were imperfect — officers at checkpoints saw that the men were bearded, they said — but sufficient to get the gunmen through a crowded, heavily patrolled city without being searched.
Feb. 19, 2007 issue - Jalal Sharafi was carrying a videogame, a gift for his daughter, when he found himself surrounded. On that chilly Sunday morning, the second secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad had driven himself to the commercial district of Arasat Hindi to checkout the site for a new Iranian bank. He had ducked into a nearby electronics store with his bodyguards, and as they emerged four armored cars roared up and disgorged at least 20 gunmen wearing bulletproof vests and Iraqi National Guard uniforms. They flashed official IDs, and manhandled Sharafi into one car. Iraqi police gave chase, guns blazing. They shot up one of the other vehicles, capturing four assailants who by late last week had yet to be publicly identified. Sharafi and the others disappeared.
At the embassy, the diplomat's colleagues were furious. "This was a group directly under American supervision," said one distraught Iranian official, who was not authorized to speak on the record. Abdul Karim Inizi, a former Iraqi Security minister close to the Iranians, pointed the finger at an Iraqi black-ops unit based out at the Baghdad airport, who answer to American Special Forces officers. "It's plausible," says a senior Coalition adviser who is also not authorized to speak on the record. The unit does exist—and does specialize in snatch operations.