In two separate attacks seven Spanish intelligence officers and two Japanese diplomats were killed.
One Spanish agent escaped the assault in Mahmudiyah, 18 miles south of Baghdad. Journalists arrived on the scene and said a small crowd chanted praise for ousted president Saddam Hussein and some even kicked at the bodies.[my emphasis]
The two attacks came a little more than two weeks after 19 Italians were killed in a suicide bombing appeared aimed at undercutting the cohesion of the U.S.-led coalition, which includes more than 30 countries. The insurgents are also focusing on separating U.S. forces from Iraqi allies by attacking police and local officials.
Television footage of the aftermath of the Spanish ambush showed several bodies along a highway as cars, their headlights on, drove by at dusk. People milled around, and a youth — apparently aware he was being filmed — kicked his foot in the air over a body. An older youth rested his foot on a corpse, an arm raised in triumph.
"We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, oh Saddam," some in the group chanted in Arabic, witnesses said.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a reporter for The Washington Post, spoke with several witnesses in the crowd. Based on what they said, he described it as a "sophisticated, coordinated attack."
Meanwhile, Japan's Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said two Japanese diplomats were killed Saturday after their car was ambushed near the Iraqi city of Tikrit. The two were en route to an aid conference in the city. Officials said that they didn't have any other details.
The deaths were the first of Japanese since the U.S.-led invasion. Japanese officials said that there would be no change to Japan's plans to dispatch troops to support the U.S.-led reconstruction of Iraq.
In Baghdad, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said some U.S.-trained Iraqi police and civilian informants appear to have conducted attacks on coalition targets.
The number of attacks may have decreased since the increased offensive commenced two weeks ago but not the severity or sophistication of these attacks as those who view these as desperate attacks and signs of progress would have us believe.