5 U.S. Troops, 2 Journalists Die in Iraq

By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, May 19, 2007

BAGHDAD, May 18 -- Five U.S. soldiers were killed and nine wounded in separate attacks in Baghdad and the restive province of Diyala northeast of the capital, the U.S. military said Friday, and ABC News reported that two Iraqi journalists working for the network's Baghdad bureau were killed by gunmen while on their way home from work Thursday night.

A statement by ABC News President David Westin identified the journalists as cameraman Alaa Uldeen Aziz, 33, and soundman Saif Laith Yousuf, 26.

ABC Baghdad correspondent Terry McCarthy said on "Good Morning America" that the pair were driving home Thursday when two cars of unknown gunmen forced their vehicle to stop, ordered them out and shot them. He said the men were reported missing Thursday night, and their deaths were confirmed Friday morning.

Their slayings bring to 104 the number of journalists killed while covering the four-year-old war in Iraq, including 11 this year and 32 last year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, based in New York. In addition, 32 media assistants -- including drivers, guards and interpreters -- have been killed, according to the group.

Like the two ABC employees killed Thursday, 82 of the journalists slain in Iraq were Iraqis, and 61 were killed in Baghdad, one of the deadliest areas of the country for civilians, soldiers and journalists.

"Many places in Baghdad are just too dangerous for foreigners to go now, so we have Iraqi camera crews who very bravely go out, and without them we are blind," McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military reported that three soldiers were killed Friday in Diyala when an explosion occurred near their vehicle. Two other soldiers were killed and nine were injured Thursday in separate attacks in southern Baghdad, where the Army has been conducting raids against weapons caches and assisting in reconstruction projects, the military said.

In a separate military operation early Friday in northeast Baghdad, U.S. forces detained six men who were suspected of smuggling weapons and explosives from Iran into Iraq and of spiriting Iraqis into Iran for "terrorist training," the U.S. military said in a statement.

The capture of the men came after U.S. and Iranian officials announced that they would meet in Baghdad beginning May 28 to discuss the security situation in Iraq.

The talks between the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker, and a senior Iranian diplomat who has not yet been identified will be the highest-level direct contact between U.S. and Iranian officials since the two countries broke off relations with each other following the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis. Iraqi officials also are to participate.

The U.S. military reported Friday that it was continuing the search for three soldiers who were abducted last Saturday when their patrol was ambushed by insurgents south of Baghdad. Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in the attack.

The military had released the identities of three of the dead soldiers, and on Friday, family members said they had been notified that the fourth soldier was Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, a former resident of Gardnerville, Nev.

Also Friday, the bodies of 21 people who had been tortured were found in Khalis, a city about 35 miles north of Baghdad, a police source in Diyala said. The victims were both Sunni and Shiite Muslims who had been kidnapped two days earlier, he said.

Iraqi army Capt. Abdul Hussein Muhammad said 12 other people were kidnapped Friday about 70 miles south of Kirkuk. The Diyala police source said they were abducted by gunmen who had set up a fake checkpoint.

Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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