Three U.S. Troops Killed

Iraqis react in horror at Baghdad's Kindi Hospital after a suicide bomber detonated explosives among recruits at Baghdad Police College.
Iraqis react in horror at Baghdad's Kindi Hospital after a suicide bomber detonated explosives among recruits at Baghdad Police College. (By Karim Kadim -- Associated Press)

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By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 22, 2006

BAGHDAD, Dec. 21 -- The U.S. military announced Thursday that three more American service members have been killed in Iraq, as a suicide bomber detonated himself in a crowd of police recruits in Baghdad, killing 15.

A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died in western Anbar province Tuesday, and soldier from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, died there Wednesday, the military said. The area is considered the heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency.

A roadside bomb killed one soldier and wounded three others while they were escorting personnel to their base south of Baghdad on Wednesday, the military said.

The deaths occur as President Bush, under pressure to come up with a new war strategy, is considering sending more U.S. troops to Iraq. Military casualties have mounted as American forces have tried to calm sectarian violence in the capital while fighting insurgents in Anbar.

The Web site, which tracks war fatalities, said Thursday that 70 service members had died this month, which would put December on track to becoming one of the deadliest of the year. The U.S. military, whose count often lags behind those of independent organizations, said 51 service members had been killed.

Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, cautioned against ranking death tolls. "We don't count them that way," he said.

Insurgents have often targeted crowds of Iraqi army and police recruits. On Thursday, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in his vest at Baghdad Police College in eastern Baghdad, killing 15 people and wounding 15, the U.S. military said. Police reports said three police officers and 12 recruits were among the dead, according to the military.

An Interior Ministry official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said the suicide bomber detonated the bomb at 7:15 a.m. as he stood with the police recruits near the ministry building.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, the commander of the Adala Police Station, Col. Adnan Mohammad, escaped an assassination attempt when a roadside bomb exploded in his convoy. Four bodyguards were wounded, according to Col. Yadqar Abdul Allah of the Kirkuk police.

Meanwhile, at Saddam Hussein's genocide trial, prosecutors have spent the week presenting videos and documents purporting to show that Hussein's government sanctioned the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

Sultan Hashem Ahmed, former minister of defense, and Gen. Hussein Mohammed, former deputy director of army operations, denied using such weapons. They said that they did use conventional weapons against Iranian troops and insisted that they were carrying out the orders of their superiors.

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 trial was adjourned until Jan. 8.

Staff researcher Robert Thomason and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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