Iraq's Fallujah showing signs of trouble

June 24, 2009 at 7:43 AM
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FALLUJAH, Iraq, June 24 (UPI) -- Recent deadly attacks have provided ominous signs the former Iraqi insurgent stronghold of Fallujah is not as secure as once thought, observers say.

A buried bomb exploded along a heavily fortified road near Fallujah this year, killing three officials working on the city's reconstruction and a showcase wastewater treatment plant -- one of several assaults by insurgents in the Anbar province area, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The attacks came in a place considered a test area for the readiness of the Iraq military to take over from the United States as it prepares to depart the country. While the U.S. military says the level of insurgent activity in the area remains encouragingly low, the newspaper reported signs Fallujah could again plunge into violence.

"In 2008 (Fallujah) was almost completely stabilized," Brig. Gen. Sadoun Taleb, a member of the anti-insurgent Awakening militia, told the Times. "In eight months, not one thing happened. Now these last seven months, it's getting worse and worse."

But Col. Matthew Lopez, commander of the U.S. Marines in eastern Anbar, disagreed, saying violence in the Fallujah area has declined 20 percent in the past six months.

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