Soldiers die in Iraq

8 U.S.

Officials struggling to calm sectarian violence

January 28, 2007|By Borzou Daragahi | Borzou Daragahi,Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- At least eight U.S. soldiers were killed in separate combat incidents, the U.S. military said yesterday, amid a steady swirl of violence against American troops and Iraqi civilians.

Nationwide, at least 60 Iraqis were killed or found dead yesterday as U.S. and Iraqi officials struggle to calm sectarian passions and reduce the American troop presence. Three U.S. soldiers were killed north of Baghdad yesterday when an improvised explosive device detonated near an Army vehicle on a security escort mission. One other soldier was wounded in the attack.

The U.S. military disclosed no further details about the attack, but a farmer in the Tarmiya region north of Baghdad described an incident in which a roadside bomb struck a U.S. Humvee, destroying it and setting it ablaze.

Two of the soldiers were killed Friday in separate bomb attacks northeast of the capital in Diyala province. One was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. Another was killed in an attack that injured three others, the military said.

Two more were killed in eastern Baghdad on Thursday in a bomb attack on a combat patrol that also left two soldiers wounded.

The deaths brought the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraqi to 3,079, according to an Associated Press count.

Two suicide car bombers also struck a crowded outdoor market in the eastern Baghdad district of Jadida yesterday, killing at least 15 Iraqi civilians and injuring dozens. The bombing was one of many recent attacks on civilians in the capital's Shiite-dominated outdoor shopping venues.

Police and witnesses said two suicide bombers driving cars plowed into the crowds within seconds of each other just after the noontime call to prayers.

Authorities suspect many such bombers are young men from other countries in the Sunni Arab world heeding religious calls to fight the U.S. military and Iraq's Shiite rule. Iraqi army soldiers at a checkpoint in southern Baghdad detained four Arab nationals yesterday in a car containing suicide belts. Officials would not disclose their exact nationalities.

Elsewhere, gunmen attacked the house of a Shiite family in west Baghdad early yesterday, killing four and leaving a 10-year-old boy for dead.

Gunmen wearing police uniforms raided a shop in the city's main computer bazaar, kidnapping the store manager and seven others, police said.

Mortar rounds struck a mostly Shiite neighborhood in northern Baghdad, killing one and injuring 10. Another family on a nearby side street was sprayed with gunfire in an attack that killed one and injured three.

Gunmen in and around Iskandiriya, south of the capital, killed a man in a drive-by shooting. Police in Hillah, south of the capital, banned vehicles to protect pilgrims heading on foot to Karbala for an annual Shiite religious festival. Still, two Iraqi soldiers were shot and killed in the area.

In the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, a car bomb explosion yesterday killed two people later identified as would-be suicide bombers. In the southern port city of Basra, authorities discovered the bodies of four men kidnapped a day earlier. And in Suweira, also in southern Iraq, authorities discovered the corpses of five teenagers in their pajamas floating in the Tigris River. All of them had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot.

Borzou Daragahi writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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