Roadside bomb kills six U.S. soldiers, interpreter in Iraq

Military officials caution that casualty rates likely to remain high this summer

May 21, 2007|By New York Times News Service.

BAGHDAD -- Six American soldiers and their interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad on Saturday, the military said yesterday, in one of the deadliest single attacks against American troops in the capital in recent months.

The soldiers, whose names were not released, had been searching for insurgent arms caches, the military said in a statement.

A soldier assigned to the Army's 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), a supply unit, was killed Saturday when a bomb struck his armored vehicle near Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, the military said. Two soldiers were wounded in the attack.

The casualties raised the number of American service member deaths to 71 this month. In April, the total was 104.

An examination of casualty records on Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an independent Web site that tracks such figures, indicated that the roadside bomb Saturday caused the highest number of American troop deaths of any single bomb attack in Baghdad this year.

Military officials warned that casualty rates are likely to remain high this summer, because more American troops are on the streets of Baghdad in an effort to tamp down sectarian violence and insurgent attacks in the capital.

Since the beginning of the American-Iraqi effort to secure Baghdad in January, there have been numerous attacks that have caused multiple casualties. In January, a helicopter crash from insurgent fire killed a dozen service members. Other attacks outside Baghdad have caused even more deaths.

Two Iraqi army soldiers died in western Baghdad yesterday, an Interior Ministry official said - one when a suicide bomber in a vehicle rammed an Iraqi army convoy and the other when a car bomb detonated at a checkpoint. American troops killed eight suspected insurgents on Sunday, the military said - six in an airstrike near Garma, in Anbar province, and two southwest of Baghdad.

A parked vehicle blew up near the Interior Ministry headquarters in central Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 10, the ministry official said. Later, a mortar shell landed in a commercial area in central Baghdad, wounding two people, the official said. In the Jihad neighborhood of southern Baghdad, American and Iraqi security forces clashed with Shiite militia members, the official said. Four insurgents and two policemen were killed in the fighting.

In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a truck bomb laden with chlorine exploded near a police checkpoint, killing 11 people, including six policemen, and wounding 22 others, said Maj. Ahmed Ali al-Alaiawi, a police official. Dr. Ammar Hammad, the director of al-Raed Hospital, confirmed the report and said that 30 more people were treated for respiratory problems caused by the chlorine used in the bomb, a tactic insurgents have begun using in recent months, apparently to increase casualties.

"Thank God, the gas didn't waft to the nearby areas as there was no strong wind, so the damage was restricted to the area where the explosion happened," Hammad said.

An American military spokesman said he had no information about a chlorine gas attack.

In Samarra, north of Baghdad, seven bodies were found, police said.

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