By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 8, 2006
BAGHDAD, Dec. 7 -- The U.S. military raised the number of service members killed Wednesday to 11, making it one of the deadliest days for U.S. troops this year.
Also, a soldier died Thursday from wounds suffered the day before in a battle in the volatile western province of Anbar.
The deaths bring to at least 31 the number of U.S. troops killed in the first week of December.
Civilian casualties also continued to mount Thursday, as 52 bodies were found across Baghdad in a 24-hour period, an Interior Ministry source said. All had gunshot wounds, nine had been beheaded and many bore signs of torture. Five of the victims were women, the source said.
Officials have attributed the surge in U.S. military deaths to stepped-up efforts to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad and a continuing campaign against insurgents in Anbar province.
On Thursday, the military released more details about the deaths. "It was a variety of events and a variety of operations," said Lt. Christopher C. Garver, a U.S. military spokesman.
Most of the casualties were in Anbar. Three soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, one Marine from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group and one Marine from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Force died of wounds suffered in enemy action. Another Marine from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died of nonhostile causes.
Five soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division were killed by a roadside bomb during combat operations in Kirkuk province, north of Baghdad, the military reported.
The soldier who died Thursday had been wounded in a battle Wednesday with suspected insurgents in Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar. Three service members were injured when the insurgents attacked them with small-arms fire from numerous buildings, including al-Haqq mosque. The U.S. troops, working with Iraqi soldiers, killed 14 insurgents and destroyed the buildings they had used as hiding places but did not fire on the mosque, the military said.
"While we are mindful to limit damage, we must respond with necessary and proportional force to protect our forces and Iraq from the insurgents," Marine Lt. Col. Bryan Salas said in a statement.
Roadside bombs killed several civilians and police officers in the capital, the Interior Ministry source said. One targeting a police patrol in northern Baghdad killed two officers and wounded three officers and three civilians.
Another bomb in southwestern Baghdad killed one civilian and wounded five. A third bomb targeting a U.S. patrol exploded in southern Baghdad, killing two civilians and injuring two passersby, the source said.
In Iskandariyah, about 30 miles south of Baghdad, police found the bodies of two people who had been tortured, handcuffed and shot in the head, said Capt. Muthana Ahmad, a spokesman for police forces in Babil province.
Iraqi and U.S. forces continued to conduct raids across the country.
Iraqi forces, with the help of American advisers, captured a senior leader of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq in Fallujah, the military reported.
In Baqubah, northeast of Baghdad, Iraqi troops captured eight suspected insurgents on Wednesday at an explosives factory containing more than a ton of TNT, said Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Shakir al-Kabi. Car bombs used in attacks in Kirkuk and Baghdad were made at the factory, Kabi said. Residents were temporarily evacuated while Iraqi forces destroyed the factory.
Also Thursday, former president Saddam Hussein's genocide trial continued with two prosecution witnesses, both medical doctors, describing chemical weapons attacks on Kurdish villages in 1987. Hussein and six other defendants are on trial for the so-called Anfal campaign, which prosecutors say resulted in the deaths of as many as 180,000 ethnic Kurds. The court adjourned until Dec. 18.
Special correspondent Naseer Nouri and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.