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In Iraq, October Death Toll Hits 101 for U.S. Forces

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In Iraq, October Death Toll Hits 101 for U.S. Forces

Iraq

In Iraq, October Death Toll Hits 101 for U.S. Forces

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

And we're going to begin this hour with some discouraging numbers from Iraq. In a few minutes we'll hear how many weapons bound for Iraqi security forces the American military cannot properly account for. First, the rising number of U.S. casualties.

BLOCK: Today the military announced the death of the 101st serviceperson to die in Iraq this month. That's the highest monthly death toll for Americans since January of 2005.

NPR's JJ Sutherland reports from Baghdad, where violence is increasing overall.

JJ SUTHERLAND: The latest U.S. serviceman to die was a military policeman shot dead by an insurgent sniper in Baghdad. Earlier today the military announced the death of an American Marine in an insurgent stronghold in Al Anbar province.

Anbar, and especially in recent weeks its capital Ramadi, has been the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the war. Americans come under attack daily in Ramadi as they struggle to bring the city under some sort of control.

In Baghdad today a bomb ripped through a crowd of men, killing dozens and wounding scores more. They were gathered in the Sadr City district seeking work as day laborers. The bombing occurred even as Americans had the Shiite slum encircled with a cordon of troops. They have shut down many roads and those few that are open have hours long lines as U.S. troops check every car and train leaving the area.

Sadr City is the stronghold of the Mahdi Army, followers of the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

U.S. forces are searching for a missing Iraqi American soldiers who was kidnapped last week in Baghdad. Reportedly he was visiting relatives in the Karrada neighborhood after leaving the heavily fortified green zone in civilian clothes. As a result, Baghdad's normally awful traffic has become the stuff of nightmare, with trips that normally last minutes now taking hours.

Saddam Hussein returned to court today, as did his lead defense lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi. Dulaimi had been boycotting the trial for a month. Today he returned and made numerous requests, among them having the court allow foreign lawyers to attend the trial. All of the requests were denied and Dulaimi immediately left the courtroom again.

The trial continued, however, with witnesses recounting the gassing of tens of thousands of Kurds with chemical weapons during the Anfal campaign in the 1990s. Saddam is expected to be sentenced in a separate trial on November 5. That case concerns the massacre of around 150 Shiite Arabs in the small town of Dujail after an attempt to assassinate Saddam there. He could face the death penalty if found guilty, although there would be an automatic appeals process that could take months.

JJ Sutherland, NPR News, Baghdad.

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