5 troops die in Iraq as alleged al-Qaida tape airs

November 11, 2006|By Louise Roug | Louise Roug,Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The U.S. military announced the deaths of five more American troops in Iraq yesterday. Meanwhile, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq purportedly issued a taunting audiotape urging the Bush administration to "stay on the battleground" so that more American troops will be killed.

Two U.S. soldiers died when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb early Thursday afternoon in west Baghdad, officials said. In separate attacks in Anbar province on Thursday, a Marine died in combat, and a soldier was killed and another wounded by a roadside bomb west of Haditha. Another Marine was killed in an accident yesterday, according to military statements.

More than half of the U.S. troops killed by insurgents this month have been killed in the western Anbar province, long a stronghold of the Sunni Arab-led insurgency.

Yesterday, a suicide car bomber, targeting an Iraqi army checkpoint in Tall Afar, west of Mosul, killed six soldiers, including Col. Kareem Jassem, commander of the Iraqi 3rd Division. Another 14 were wounded in the explosion.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, gunmen fatally shot an Iraqi soldier in front of his house. South of Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi police convoy killed two officers and wounded one.

In the capital, gunmen ambushed a local police chief, Ayad Ibrahim, and three other officers. After a shootout, the gunmen kidnapped the officers, although one of them managed to flee. Nine bodies, shot execution-style, were found dumped in various Baghdad neighborhoods, according to Iraqi authorities.

The new audio recording, allegedly by Abu Hamza Muhajir, leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, was posted on the Internet apparently in response to this week's U.S. midterm election.

"I tell the lame duck [administration]: Do not rush to escape as did your defense minister," Muhajir said, according to Reuters. "Stay on the battleground."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld resigned Wednesday after the election, in which the Democrats won majority control of both the House and Senate.

A spike in attacks against American troops last month left 103 U.S. troops dead - the highest toll in almost two years. Most were killed by roadside bombs.

Louise Roug writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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