Five US troops killed in Iraq

AFP, April 22, 2008

BAGHDAD (AFP) - The US military on Tuesday announced the deaths of five troops in a series of bombings as blasts in Baghdad killed 10 people and a female suicide bomber slaughtered six Iraqis north of the capital.

Two US marines were killed and three others wounded when a bomber slammed his explosives-laden car into a checkpoint near the western Iraqi city of Ramadi at around 7:30 am (0430 GMT), the American military said.

Two Iraqi policemen and 24 civilians were also wounded in the attack near Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, which was once the symbol of Sunni Arab insurgency against US forces.

A third marine was killed and another wounded in a separate roadside bomb attack in Basra on Monday, the military said in a separate statement.

This is the first US military loss in Basra since Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched a crackdown against Shiite militiamen there on March 25.

US forces have been sent to Basra to support Iraqi troops after fierce clashes broke out in the port city following the crackdown.

Another roadside bomb attack killed two US soldiers "during operations" and wounded another two, as well as three Iraqis, in north-central Salaheddin province on Monday, the US military said.

The latest deaths bring the US military's overall toll since the March 2003 invasion to 4,044, according to an AFP tally based on independent website

Blasts, meanwhile, killed at least 10 people and wounded 17 around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) in Baghdad's Shiite bastion Sadr City, where militiamen are fighting street battles with Iraqi and US forces, officials said.

Several mortar rounds struck the embattled district's Al-Nasr neighbourhood, they said.

Other officials and a local resident said the casualties were the result of a US air strike in the neighbourhood but Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover said no American planes carried out strikes at that time.

The US military had earlier announced it had killed five Shiite militiamen in Sadr City, bringing to around 335 the number of people killed since the fighting began late last month.

The Basra crackdown triggered a wave of firefights across Shiite regions of Iraq, including Sadr City, the bastion of anti-American leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

A female suicide bomber meanwhile blew herself up near a police station in the restive Iraqi province of Diyala on Tuesday and killed five policemen and a security guard, officials told AFP.

The bomber attacked the police station in the town of Jalawla, 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of Baquba, the capital of Diyala, at around 6:45 pm (1545 GMT), a police officer from Baquba said.

Doctor Youssef Atta from Jalawla hospital confirmed the attack.

"We have received the bodies of six people, including five policeman and one security guard. Twelve wounded victims have also been admitted in the hospital."

The wounded include two policemen and 10 civilians.

The attack was the second by a woman in as many days in Diyala, one of the most dangerous regions of Iraq which is known to house Al-Qaeda strongholds.

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