<!--:es-->Bomb kills 14 U.S. Marines in Iraq<!--:-->

Bomb kills 14 U.S. Marines in Iraq

The bomb exploded under a Marina amphibious assault

BAGHDAD – Insurgents blew up a U.S. assault vehicle in western Iraq, killing 14 Marines and a civilian interpreter in the deadliest roadside bomb attack against American forces since the war began.

In the southern city of Basra, an American journalist was found shot dead four days after he wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times criticizing Shi’ite Islamic fundamentalism.

The roadside bomb exploded under a Marine amphibious assault vehicle as it was traveling south of Haditha, a town on the Euphrates river about 200 km (120 miles) northwest of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. One Marine was wounded.

Haditha is one of several violent towns in Iraq’s western Anbar province, the Sunni Muslim heartland of an insurgency that has defied repeated U.S. offensives.

The blast, which highlighted the effectiveness of makeshift bombs against the most powerful military in the world, was the second major attack against Marines in the Haditha area in the past three days. On Monday, six Marines were killed in the town, and a seventh was killed by a car bomb in nearby Hit.

Both Haditha attacks involved the same unit, Regimental Combat Team 2 of the 2nd Marine Division, statements showed.

«This is a very lethal and unfortunately adaptive enemy that we are faced with inside Iraq,» U.S. Army Brigadier General Carter told a news briefing at the Pentagon.Speaking in Texas, President Bush again rejected any early U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

«We’re at war. We’re facing an enemy that is ruthless. If we put out a (pullout) timetable the enemy would adjust their tactics,» he said in a speech.

Iraqi leaders have drawn more Sunni Arabs away from fighting and into the political process in a bid to pacify the country.

But guerrillas have kept up the pressure with suicide and roadside bombings that have killed thousands.

«We know the terrorist/insurgent forces are trying to stop the Iraqi democratic process in any way they can and one way they think will work will be to make spectacular attacks,» said U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan.

«This does not mean that there is a spike in attacks or that they are becoming more effective against our forces.»