One-Day Toll in Iraq Combat Is Highest for U.S. in Months

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 19, 2006; 9:30 AM

BAGHDAD, Oct. 19 -- A roadside bombing and other attacks killed 10 American troops across Iraq on Tuesday, the U.S. military reported Wednesday, making it the deadliest day of combat for U.S. forces in 10 months.

The one-day toll, part of what the U.S. military has said is a 43 percent increase in attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces in the capital since midsummer, occurred as casualties among Iraqi troops and civilians are soaring far higher than at any previous time in the war, according to U.S. and Iraqi tallies.

Thursday morning, a suicide attacker drove an oil tanker into the Abu Tammam police station in Mosul, collapsing part of the building, triggering a huge fireball and killing 12 people, Iraqi police officials said. Smaller attacks were launched on four other police facilities in the city at about the same time, officials said. In the northern city of Kirkuk, a car bomb targeting a group of Iraqi soldiers in a crowded market area killed at least eight people and wounded scores more, Reuters reported.

The escalating number of killings underscores both the surging nature of sectarian violence and the increasing lethality of roadside bombs, which claim the most American lives in Iraq despite efforts to bolster armor and use high-technology devices to disable bombs.

Five of the American troop deaths Tuesday were caused by bombs. Four soldiers were killed in Baghdad about 6:50 a.m. when a planted bomb exploded under their vehicle, the U.S. military said in a statement. Another bomb killed a single soldier north of the capital.

Three soldiers died in combat east of Baghdad, in Diyala province, the military said. One soldier was killed in north Baghdad when armed men attacked his patrol, and a Marine died in combat in the predominantly Sunni province of Anbar, in western Iraq. Since the summer, Baghdad has surpassed Anbar as the most hostile place in the country for U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Tuesday's deaths, along with the death of an American soldier in Baghdad by small-arms fire on Wednesday, brought the number of total U.S. troop fatalities for October to 70, including 67 killed in action.

One hundred and twenty-five American troops were killed in action in November 2004, and 126 were killed in action in April 2004, during U.S. offensives in Najaf and Fallujah.

U.S. military officials have attributed the rising violence to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the increased presence of American troops in some of the most violent Baghdad neighborhoods. In a briefing Thursday, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq reiterated that position, and said the U.S.-led coalition "will not be deterred."

"Violence and progress do coexist here in Iraq," Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said. He said U.S. forces will continue supporting and training what he called "increasingly capable and determined Iraq security forces."

The Iraqi victims of violence on Wednesday included 30 men whose bodies were found dumped around Baghdad after they had been blindfolded, cuffed and shot, the Interior Ministry said. Ministry officials said most had also been tortured, which often involves puncturing victims' skulls, torsos and limbs with electric drills. The victims were all under 30, the ministry said.

The deaths reported by officials and published in the news media represent only a fraction of the thousands of mutilated bodies winding up in Baghdad's overcrowded morgue each month. U.S. and morgue officials say 90 percent of the killings are now carried out execution-style, with repeated shots to the head and body, usually after the victim had been kidnapped and tortured.

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