More Than 20 Iraqis, 3 U.S. Troops Killed

Associated Press
Monday, April 24, 2006

BAGHDAD, April 23 -- Three U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb northwest of the capital, raising to eight the number of Americans killed this weekend in the Baghdad area.

More than 20 Iraqis also died in other violence Sunday, including seven who were killed in three explosions just outside the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad, not far from the Defense Ministry.

The violence occurred one day after Iraq's parliament met inside the Green Zone to elect top government officials, marking a breakthrough after a long political standoff.

The prime minister-designate, Jawad al-Maliki, has 30 days to assemble a national unity government of Shiite Muslim, Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties that U.S. and Iraqi officials hope can stem the sectarian violence that has swelled over the past months of political stalemate.

The U.S. military said the three soldiers were killed at 11:30 a.m. but did not give an exact location. Five American soldiers were killed Saturday in bombings in southern Baghdad.

The three explosions outside the Green Zone occurred at about 8 a.m., killing seven Iraqi civilians and wounding eight, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Three of the wounded worked at the Defense Ministry, an official there said.

At least eight mortars or rockets exploded at about the same time across the Tigris River, in central Baghdad, but caused no injuries, police said.

Police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said it was hard to identify the dead because the powerful blasts and shrapnel had severed their limbs and destroyed their identification cards.

Also Sunday, the bodies of eight Iraqi men who had apparently been killed in captivity were discovered in two areas of Baghdad: six in Azamiyah and two in the Shiite slum of Sadr City.

In Fallujah, about 1,000 residents held a funeral procession for Shaukit al-Kubaisi, a Sunni cleric and imam of a local mosque who was killed by gunmen on Saturday night.

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