Iraq bombing rampage kills 69


Summary

"Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers and one civilian journalist died as a result of injuries sustained when their vehicle was attacked with an IED (roadside bomb) in Diyala Province," said a military statement. It did not identify the journalist.

Two other soldiers in the vehicle were injured. On the same day two more US soldiers were killed around Baghdad in separate attacks by roadside bombs and a British soldier also died of his wounds.

Baghdad hit by bombing blitz

Meanwhile, insurgent car bombers killed at least 37 people in Baghdad, shattering a short-lived lull in sectarian violence.

One blast alone killed 33 people and wounded 63 as shrapnel scythed through a commercial street in the south-west neighbourhood on Bayaa, a mainly Shi'ite area on one of the city's many dangerous sectarian faultlines.

At the same time, further north in the Sunni city of Samarra, militants assaulted a police station with a suicide van bomb and automatic fire, killing 12 officers and triggering a bloody street battle with US forces.

Both attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgent factions, in particular al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch, which has reacted to a US-Iraq security crackdown by unleashing a spate of deadly suicide bombings.

Blasts undermine security plan

A 10-week-old security plan in Baghdad has substantially reduced murders by sectarian death squads, US military spokesmen said, but has been unable to stem the wave of deadly car bombs.

"The initial indications are the levels of murders and executions… in the city have gone down quite a bit," Caldwell said. "We are still challenged, however, by the car bombs."

Nowhere was this clearer than in the shattered Bayaa commercial street, where a row of shops had been devastated and the blast crater was awash with blood and sewage.

"There is no checkpoint here to protect us," complained a baker, Abu Ali, whose shop was demolished when the car bomb exploded outside in a crowded area near a bus stop. "The government hasn't imposed its security plan here."

In Samarra, it was a larger van bomb that rammed the gates of a police station and exploded, killing local police chief Colonel Jalil al-Dulaimi and at least 11 of his men.

US soldiers at a nearby base responded to the attack, killing at least two insurgents, and two American soldiers sustained minor wounds in an ensuing firefight.

Around a dozen seriously wounded Iraqi policemen were evacuated by helicopter to a US hospital.

The Samarra attack was the third in four days against police bases housing Sunni officers recruited by the government to fight the Sunni-led insurgency after several Iraqi tribes switched their allegiance to Baghdad.

Al-Qaeda has responded with deadly fury to the betrayal of its cause, but both US commanders and Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki's Shi'ite-led government believe it represents a turning point in the war.

The US military today also reported three earlier combat deaths including two marines dead in Anbar province yesterday and one soldier killed in west Baghdad on Friday.

The latest losses – including a "non-combat related death" – took to 3,374 the death toll of US service personnel in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.


"Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers and one civilian journalist died as a result of injuries sustained when their vehicle was attacked with an IED (roadside bomb) in Diyala Province," said a military statement. It did not identify the journalist.

Two other soldiers in the vehicle were injured. On the same day two more US soldiers were killed around Baghdad in separate attacks by roadside bombs and a British soldier also died of his wounds.

Baghdad hit by bombing blitz

Meanwhile, insurgent car bombers killed at least 37 people in Baghdad, shattering a short-lived lull in sectarian violence.

One blast alone killed 33 people and wounded 63 as shrapnel scythed through a commercial street in the south-west neighbourhood on Bayaa, a mainly Shi'ite area on one of the city's many dangerous sectarian faultlines.

At the same time, further north in the Sunni city of Samarra, militants assaulted a police station with a suicide van bomb and automatic fire, killing 12 officers and triggering a bloody street battle with US forces.

Both attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgent factions, in particular al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch, which has reacted to a US-Iraq security crackdown by unleashing a spate of deadly suicide bombings.

Blasts undermine security plan

A 10-week-old security plan in Baghdad has substantially reduced murders by sectarian death squads, US military spokesmen said, but has been unable to stem the wave of deadly car bombs.

"The initial indications are the levels of murders and executions… in the city have gone down quite a bit," Caldwell said. "We are still challenged, however, by the car bombs."

Nowhere was this clearer than in the shattered Bayaa commercial street, where a row of shops had been devastated and the blast crater was awash with blood and sewage.

"There is no checkpoint here to protect us," complained a baker, Abu Ali, whose shop was demolished when the car bomb exploded outside in a crowded area near a bus stop. "The government hasn't imposed its security plan here."

In Samarra, it was a larger van bomb that rammed the gates of a police station and exploded, killing local police chief Colonel Jalil al-Dulaimi and at least 11 of his men.

US soldiers at a nearby base responded to the attack, killing at least two insurgents, and two American soldiers sustained minor wounds in an ensuing firefight.

Around a dozen seriously wounded Iraqi policemen were evacuated by helicopter to a US hospital.

The Samarra attack was the third in four days against police bases housing Sunni officers recruited by the government to fight the Sunni-led insurgency after several Iraqi tribes switched their allegiance to Baghdad.

Al-Qaeda has responded with deadly fury to the betrayal of its cause, but both US commanders and Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki's Shi'ite-led government believe it represents a turning point in the war.

The US military today also reported three earlier combat deaths including two marines dead in Anbar province yesterday and one soldier killed in west Baghdad on Friday.

The latest losses – including a "non-combat related death" – took to 3,374 the death toll of US service personnel in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.