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Harris Whitbeck: Iraqis cheer U.S. death

A U.S. attack helicopter hovers in west Baghdad, scene of the attack in which an American soldier was killed this week.
A U.S. attack helicopter hovers in west Baghdad, scene of the attack in which an American soldier was killed this week.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Major combat in Iraq was declared over more than two months ago, but U.S. troops in the country are being killed almost daily.

CNN Correspondent Harris Whitbeck in Baghdad has details of the latest attacks and measures under way to improve security.

WHITBECK: We have a couple of incidents to report. The first one occurred earlier [Wednesday] morning. One soldier was killed and three were wounded when the convoy they were traveling in, on Highway 1, west of Baghdad, was hit by an explosive device.

The convoy had just passed wreckage of an abandoned vehicle when an explosion was heard. One truck in that convoy was destroyed, and the soldier who was killed was in that truck. Those who were wounded were evacuated to a military hospital.

When that explosion was heard, a group of Iraqi civilians, who were nearby, gathered at the site of the aftermath [and] were watching what was going on.

And when they apparently realized that this was an attack on a U.S. military force, they erupted in cheers. And that cheering went on for several minutes.

Meanwhile, later [Wednesday] in western Baghdad, one U.S. soldier was injured when a grenade was thrown at his truck, which was parked in front of a bank in the Mansour district of western Baghdad. Again, that was another apparent attack on U.S. forces here.

The U.S. military authorities here are very concerned about what might happen over the next few hours.

Thursday is the anniversary of the Baath Party's rise to power in Iraq. That is Saddam Hussein's former political party. And people feel that Saddam Hussein's loyalists might try to launch more attacks on U.S. forces here as a way of commemorating that event.

Now there are some steps being taken to improve security in the Iraqi capital, and [Wednesday] the first 96 graduates of the Baghdad Police Academy were graduated. U.S. Administrator Paul Bremer was at that ceremony.

The idea of this training course, which lasts for about three weeks, is to provide the trainees with knowledge of basic policing techniques and also knowledge of basic human rights issues that the police force would have to deal with as they patrol the city's streets.

The idea of the Baghdad Police Academy is to graduate eventually about 900 officers who would take over a lot of the policing work that's now being handled by the U.S. military.

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