2 U.S. Pilots Dead In Iraq Crash

US Army Apache Longbow AH-64D attack helicopter over a map of Iraq
A U.S. Apache attack helicopter crashed Monday north of Baghdad, killing both pilots, after a witness said he saw the aircraft hit by a rocket that "destroyed it completely in the air."

Later Monday, a car bomb exploded between a movie house and Sunni Arab mosque in eastern Baghdad, killing at least four people and wounding 16, authorities said. The New Baghdad area is packed with small shops and markets selling everything from vegetables to clothes, and it usually is crowded with shoppers in the hours before curfew.

The AH-64 crashed in Mishahda, 20 miles north of the capital, and witness Mohammed Naji told Associated Press Television News he saw two helicopters flying toward Mishahda when "a rocket hit one of them and destroyed it completely in the air."

The two pilots were killed in the crash, which is under investigation, said Lt. Col. Clifford Kent, spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division. At least 1,737 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The relentless carnage has killed at least 1,338 people since April 28, when Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite-dominated government. With the Sunni Arab-dominated insurgency targeting the Shiite majority, the wave of killings has raised fears of a possible civil war.

Al-Jaafari said in London that two years would be "more than enough" to establish security in Iraq.

In other recent developments:

  • The U.S. military said Monday it plans to expand its prisons across Iraq to hold as many as 16,000 detainees, as the relentless insurgency shows no sign of letup one year after the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqi authorities. The plans were announced on a day three U.S. Army soldiers were killed two pilots whose helicopter crashed north of Baghdad and a soldier who was shot in the capital. At least four Iraqis died in a car bomb attack in the capital.
  • The U.S. military said Monday that three female troops were killed in last week's insurgent ambush of a convoy in Fallujah. The death toll from Thursday's attack was raised to six after the military identified the remains of a female Marine and female sailor. In all, five Marines, two of them women, and a female sailor were killed. The military previously said 13 troops were wounded, including 11 females. The attack was carried out by a suicide car bomber and gunmen while the women were part of a team of Marines assigned to various checkpoints around Fallujah.
  • In Baghdad, two people were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in the northern Azamiyah neighborhood, police 1st Lt. Mohammed al-Hayali said.
  • Also Monday, Iraqi police detained 48 suspected insurgents in Iskandriyah, Jibbala and Haswa in northern Hillah, police Capt. Muthana Khalid said. The three-day raid, which ended early Monday, took place in an area south of Baghdad and it was part of "Operation Lightning." Police also seized weapons and a potential car bomb.
  • On Sunday, suicide bombers struck a police headquarters, an army base and a hospital around Mosul on Sunday, killing 33 people in a setback to efforts to rebuild the northern city's police force that was rocked by intimidation from insurgents seven months ago. In an unverified communication on an Islamic militant web site, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist group claims responsibility for Sunday's attacks in Mosul.
  • President Bush will deliver a major address on Iraq from Ft. Bragg, N.C., Tuesday at 8 p.m. Mr. Bush will be speaking to troops about the importance of completing the mission in Iraq, the White House said.