The New York Times and the Washington Post lead with American troops' retaliatory response to the increasing guerrilla warfare in northern Iraq. After coming under attack, American troops rolling through a village killed several Iraqis. There are conflicting reports about how many Iraqis died and how many were involved in the attack, but no American casualties were reported. The Los Angeles Times leads with swelling job loss in California amid burgeoning budget woes and business costs.
The Post's lead reports 27 Iraqis died during an hourslong fight after four of them ambushed U.S. forces with rocket-propelled grenades. The NYT says that although U.S. Central Command's statement numbered the dead at 27, that's incorrect—only seven died, according to "an official with the United States military command in Iraq." Only the LAT names their source. Lt. Col. Andy Fowler, commander of the troops involved, tells the paper that seven were killed, two of whom were wearing black uniforms similar to the kind worn by Fedayeen militia who support Saddam Hussein. The others are reported to be civilians, and the NYT says that according to residents, American officials returned to the village later to apologize for the skirmish.
Thousands of U.S. soldiers have spread out over an area north of Baghdad to raid civilian residences in search of remaining Baathists. Though U.S. troop leaders glowed over the cooperation by locals, not everyone is happy—most notably residents who displayed bruises from "Peninsula Strike" and who were among the more than 370 people detained for questioning. One 22-year-old Baghdad University student tells the NYT that while held for four days his mouth was taped and he was blindfolded and handcuffed.
The LAT fronts the fifth attack on Hamas in four days, where Israeli forces in Gaza City ambushed an activist for the militant Palestinian group, killing him and injuring more than 20 bystanders. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants an armed peacekeeping force to step in between Israel and the occupied territories, but the Bush administration has nixed the idea. Early-morning reports on Saturday indicate that the Israelis and Palestinians will continue security talks regardless of the recent tumult.
The Post off-leads with more on the attack on a guerrilla camp in Iraq near the Syrian border early Thursday morning that killed at least 68 fighters, calling it the "deadliest since war's end." (The NYT called it that yesterday.) Also reported yesterday, Washington officials are calling it a "terrorist training camp," but as TP pointed out, guerrilla activity is different from terrorism. Further down in the story, the WP says that officials are unsure of exactly who was killed: "I will just simply tell you that it was a camp area that was confirmed with bad guys, and specifically who the bad guys are will be determined as we exploit the site," said Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, commander of the occupation forces. The NYT's front-page take on it offers no definitive answers about whether those killed were Iraqis or foreigners.
The LAT fronts a story on the CIA's reassignment of two officials who were involved with analysis on Iraq's alleged banned WMD. The higher-ups say nothing's out of the ordinary, but anonymous sources tell the Times that the officials are being sent into "exile." The House and Senate intelligence committees are scrutinizing a mountain of CIA documents on prewar intelligence, but "an intelligence official familiar with the Iraq assessments" tells the paper, "They'll be hard-pressed to find any kind of smoking gun."
What was wrong with the Columbia shuttle? Take your pick from a "variety of problems," says the NYT. The final report from independent investigators will probably get to Congress in late July, and sources are already predicting it will say that "NASA's safety culture is deeply flawed." Among the troubles at the agency: Once fixed, NASA doesn't ensure that problems won't pop up again; full physical tests aren't always performed on parts used in flight; not enough resources are devoted to preventing foreseeable difficulties.
For the fourth night in a row, demonstrators crowded Tehran's central streets demanding more economic, social, and political freedom from Iran's Islamic government. Riot police and vigilantes reportedly beat protesters while officials attempted to connect the unrest to watching too much American television.
In a rare move, somebody decided to put Congo on the front page, but the story doesn't focus on the four-year conflict that's left more than 3 million dead. Instead, the WP feature centers on the relative novelty of 12-year-old, machine-gun-toting soldiers there, 300,000 of whom are fighting in 30 different nations, including Congo.
Attention recent millionaires: Return the Cristal. If you think you won the lottery in Washington, D.C., the other day, you may be out of luck. According to the Post, yesterday's editions printed the incorrect winning numbers for the District of Columbia's Quick Cash June 12 drawing.