7 U.S., British Troops Killed In Iraq Attacks
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
BAGHDAD, Sept. 4 -- Seven American and British troops were killed in separate incidents across Iraq over the past 48 hours, military officials said Monday.
Their deaths were announced as gunmen rampaged through a Sunni Arab neighborhood in western Baghdad, killing at least 12 people in the latest spasm of sectarian bloodshed that many fear is shoving Iraq toward civil war.
Police officer Husam Ali said members of the Mahdi Army, a militia controlled by anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, carried out the attack on Sunnis early Monday in the Baiaa neighborhood to avenge the assassination a day earlier of the militia's local leader, Abu Moqtada. Ali said 10 Sunni civilians also had been kidnapped Sunday night as part of the retaliation.
Fahad Hameed, 25, who owns a car parts shop in Baiaa, said gunmen wearing tracksuits killed about a dozen Sunnis who worked in car maintenance stores. The Interior Ministry confirmed that 12 people were killed and nine wounded during the attack. Hameed said the gunmen drove eight cars that displayed pictures of Sadr in their rear windows.
Witnesses said armed men also killed three people during a funeral procession for men associated with Sadr.
Sahib al-Amiri, a close aide to Sadr in Najaf, said the Mahdi Army was "not guilty of this terrorist operation" in Baiaa.
The deaths of the American and British troops occurred across Iraq. The American military said a soldier with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army's 34th Infantry Division was killed by a bomb Monday while escorting a convoy north of Baghdad.
On Sunday, the military said, two Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 were killed in combat in Anbar province. The military also announced that a soldier from the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division was killed Sunday when his vehicle was struck by a bomb near Mosul, and that a soldier from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division was killed by a bomb Sunday near Baqubah.
Near Basra, in southern Iraq, two British soldiers were killed and a third seriously wounded Monday when a roadside bomb exploded near their armored Land Rover, said Maj. Charlie Burbridge, a British military spokesman.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that a military prosecutor had recommended that four American soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old girl and of killing her and her family face a court-martial. Col. Dwight Warren, the investigator in the case, said in a report issued Sunday that "reasonable grounds exist to believe that each of the accused committed the offense for which he is charged."
The report was given to lawyers in the case and obtained by the AP from David Sheldon, the lawyer for one of the defendants.
In other violence across Iraq on Monday, three ethnic Turkmen Shiite pilgrims were killed and five were wounded when gunmen opened fire as the group traveled from near the northern city of Kirkuk to the Shiite holy city of Karbala in the south, police said.
In and around Baqubah, armed men killed three people and wounded five in separate incidents, police said.
Special correspondents K.I. Ibrahim and Naseer Mehdawi in Baghdad and Saad Sarhan in Najaf contributed to this report.