Sunni Muslim militants claim 9 U.S. troop deaths

April 25, 2007|By Edmund Sanders | Edmund Sanders,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD -- A group claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaida claimed responsibility yesterday for a suicide car bomb that killed nine U.S. soldiers and wounded 20 others in one of the deadliest single attacks against American troops in Iraq.

Islamic State of Iraq, a coalition of Sunni Muslim militant groups, posted an Internet message vowing to launch additional attacks. The claims could not be verified.

The group also boasted it had developed "new strategies for explosions" that would allow it to penetrate U.S. and Iraqi security lines.

Monday's attack against a U.S. patrol base in the restive Diyala province is the latest violence to hit the region north of Baghdad. Since a Feb. 13 security crackdown in Baghdad, some militants reportedly have fled the Iraqi capital and regrouped in Diyala and its provincial capital, Baqouba.

As part of the Bush administration's new security plan, U.S. and Iraqi forces have fanned out to smaller, local outposts, enabling them to better protect communities but also making them more vulnerable to attack. The U.S. base attacked Monday was in a converted schoolhouse.

Islamic State of Iraq is believed to be the same group behind the April 12 suicide attack inside the cafeteria of the Iraqi Parliament building. Investigators are still trying to determine how the bomber infiltrated Green Zone security. Preliminary suspicions point to the bodyguard of a Parliament member.

Elsewhere yesterday, a suicide truck bomb exploded near a police checkpoint outside the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, killing nearly 30 people, police said.

In Baghdad, a car bomb killed one Iraqi and wounded six others near a congested intersection close to the Iranian Embassy and an entrance to the Green Zone. A second car bomb was discovered and destroyed before it could be detonated.

Two commuters were killed by a bomb hidden inside a shopping bag and left under a bus seat in the northern part of the capital. Ten civilians were killed in a marketplace in southern Baghdad in a mortar attack that heavily damaged a mosque in Zafaraniya.

Edmund Sanders writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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