9 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq; Abducted Soldier Found Dead

Soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, searched in Yusufiyah last week for three U.S. soldiers abducted in a May 12 ambush.
Soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, searched in Yusufiyah last week for three U.S. soldiers abducted in a May 12 ambush. (By Staff Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr. -- U.s. Air Force Via Bloomberg News)
By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, May 24, 2007

BAGHDAD, May 23 -- Nine U.S. soldiers and Marines were killed in Iraq on Tuesday, and the military said that the body of a man found in the Euphrates River early Wednesday was that of an American soldier abducted during a deadly ambush south of Baghdad almost two weeks ago, U.S. officials said.

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Co.. Josslyn Aberle in Baghdad confirmed Thursday that the body was that of Pvt. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif.

Iraqi police said the body pulled from the Euphrates was partially clad in what appeared to be U.S. military pants and boots. It was recovered near Musayyib, about 45 miles south of Baghdad and about 20 miles downriver from where the May 12 abduction occurred, according to Capt. Muthana Ahmad, police spokesman in Babil province.

Reuters quoted a river patrol officer in Musayyib as saying the man appeared to have been killed about a week ago.

Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in the ambush, and three soldiers were abducted, triggering a massive manhunt in a large area south and west of Baghdad by about 6,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. U.S. officials said this week that they believed at least two of the missing men were still alive.

Also Wednesday, about 100 Iraqis were killed and 130 injured in mortar strikes, suicide attacks, car bombings, drive-by shootings and other violence across the country, according to law enforcement authorities and news agency accounts.

The military reported seven soldiers and two Marines killed in five incidents Tuesday, a particularly deadly day that underscored the increased vulnerability of U.S. forces as they take a more visible role in trying reduce suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, death squad massacres and other attacks that have become part of daily life in Iraq and its capital. The new mission, which involves about 28,000 additional U.S. troops in Baghdad and other parts of the country, was launched in mid-February and so far has had mixed success.

"As we all know, it's going to get harder before it gets easier," Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters. "Overall, we have not seen an increase in violence, just an increase in fights with terrorists and extremists of all affiliations. We now have more troops conducting more operations . . . resulting in more confrontations."

Eighty U.S. service members have been reported killed so far in May, an average of about 3.5 deaths per day. The month is continuing a trend of higher U.S. fatalities that began in December.

In the worst incident Tuesday, three U.S. soldiers were reported killed when roadside bombs struck their patrol, the military reported in a statement. Two soldiers and an interpreter were injured in the attack. The statement did not say where the incident occurred.

Two soldiers were killed and three were injured by an explosion near their vehicle in Baghdad province, the military reported. A soldier was killed by small-arms fire in western Baghdad, and a soldier was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb exploded while they were outside their vehicle in southwest Baghdad, the military said.

Two Marines were killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province west of the capital, a statement said.

No further details were available.

Also in Anbar, a Sunni Arab stronghold of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, 10 people in the same family were killed Tuesday night by a bomber who blew himself up in their home, according to provincial police Lt. Col. Jubair Rasheed al-Dulaimi. Many of the dead were women and children, he said.

The province has been praised recently by U.S. and Iraqi officials because local tribes have begun joining to resist the insurgent fighters. The family, Dulaimi said, belonged to a group called the Anbar Awakening Council that opposes al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Dulaimi said the family was at home in the Albu Ubaid area east of the city of Ramadi, about 55 miles west of Baghdad, when the bomber attacked. When neighbors -- including many police officers -- came to help, a second suicide attacker entered the house and detonated explosives, injuring six police officers, Dulaimi said.

In the worst attack on civilians Wednesday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives vest inside a crowded cafe in Mandali, a town about 70 miles northeast of the capital near the border with Iran, killing at least 20 people and wounding 33 , according to provincial police Lt. Mohammed Haikman.

Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company