Bombs kill 2 U.S. soldiers in Iraq

Death toll rises to 19 in attacks in Karbala

December 29, 2003|By Laura King | Laura King,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Roadside bombs, which have become the most lethal threat to U.S. troops in Iraq, killed two more American soldiers yesterday, one in the capital and another near the volatile Sunni Muslim town of Fallujah. The Baghdad attack claimed the lives of two Iraqi children.

Meanwhile, the death toll in a series of car bomb and rocket attacks a day earlier in the southern city of Karbala rose to 19 - seven coalition soldiers and 12 Iraqis. Throughout the day, funeral processions wound their way through the streets of the Shiite Muslim holy city, and medical officials said that many of the nearly 200 people wounded remained hospitalized.

Yesterday's powerful blast on the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, which killed a member of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, wounded five U.S. soldiers, their Iraqi interpreter and eight members of the Iraqi civil defense force, said Capt. Jason Beck, a military spokesman.

The explosion occurred about 10:30 a.m. as the streets were filled with shoppers, according to U.S. soldiers who treated the wounded and searched for more bombs.

"It's the worst one of these I've ever seen," said a 24-year- old soldier from the 2nd Armored Division's 37th Battalion, who declined to give his name. "It's a very heavily trafficked area, and it was a really big bomb."

Roadside bombs have become the weapon of choice for Iraqi insurgents. The bombs are concealed in trash piles, empty cans, cardboard boxes, old piping, even dead chickens. Lately, bombers have been planting secondary devices meant to kill and maim troops arriving to help those hurt in the initial attack.

The soldier killed near Fallujah was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division who was traveling in a convoy just outside the Euphrates River town, about 30 miles west of Baghdad. Three other soldiers were wounded.

In Karbala, a spokesman for the Polish-led coalition force that controls south-central Iraq said five suspects had been detained in Saturday's car bombings and mortar and rocket attacks - the deadliest wave of strikes since Saddam Hussein's capture. Five Bulgarians and two Thai soldiers were killed in the attacks.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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