Bombings Kill 4 American Soldiers, 7 Iraqi Policemen

By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 25, 2006

BAGHDAD, Dec. 24 -- Four American service members were killed in explosions, and seven Iraqi policemen died when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb in a police station northeast of the capital, authorities said Sunday.

The American casualties occurred Saturday. Three soldiers from the 89th Military Police Brigade were killed and one was wounded when their vehicle was struck by a bomb in eastern Baghdad shortly after noon, the U.S. military reported. A Task Force Lightning soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, died and another was wounded as a result of an explosion in Diyala province, northeast of the capital, the military said.

The deaths bring the number of U.S. service members killed in December to 77, which makes it the second-deadliest month this year, after October.

In Diyala province, which has an active insurgency, a man disguised himself in a police uniform and entered the Muqdadiyah police station during the morning roll call Sunday. While standing among the policemen, detonated a bomb, killing himself and seven policemen and wounding 30 other people, said Ali al-Khaiam, an official at the Diyala Joint Coordination Center.

Ziad Tariq Al-Jubori, 32, a policeman injured in the bombing, said his colleagues told him that a man wearing a uniform arrived at the station and said he was reporting for duty at the request of authorities in Baqubah, the capital of Diyala. Another policeman then ordered everyone to line up for the roll call, Jubori said from his hospital bed.

"The guy blew himself up," he said, "and all the seven people near him were immediately killed."

In the southern city of Samawah, at least seven people have been killed and 25 wounded since clashes began Saturday between police and the Mahdi Army, a militia formed by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, said Samawah police Capt. Kareem Ali. Samawah is in Muthanna province, which British, Japanese and Australian troops handed over to Iraqi forces in July.

Ali said the Mahdi Army was trying to free three of its fighters from police custody. The three men, he said, had confessed to killing police investigators and were awaiting trial.

Abdul Kareem al-Kinani, the spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the Iraqi police and army were fighting armed groups in Samawah but declined to confirm that it was the Mahdi Army. He disputed the death toll, saying two policemen died and two were wounded. He said the clashes had quieted by Sunday night.

Nassar al-Rubaie, the leader of Sadr's parliamentary bloc, said a delegation from Sadr's office in the holy Shiite city of Najaf had traveled to Samawah to demand that the detainees receive a fair trial.

In other violence Sunday, two bombs exploded in the northern city of Khanaqin near the Iranian border, killing three people and injuring 18, said an Interior Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Another bomb exploded in Baghdad on Palestine Street, one of the city's main boulevards, killing one policeman and injuring three others, the official said.

Special correspondents Waleed Saffar in Baghdad and Saad Sarhan in Najaf and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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