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5 U.S. Soldiers Killed In Iraq Attack

Five American soldiers were killed and seven wounded in a coordinated attack in southern Baghdad involving a roadside bomb and rocket-propelled grenades, the U.S. military announced Friday.

The soldiers were on a combat patrol when a roadside bomb exploded near them on Thursday, the military said in a statement. Shortly after the blast, insurgents attacked with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, it said.

All seven wounded soldiers were evacuated to a military hospital, and one has since returned to duty, the military said. The victims' names were withheld pending family notification.

The deaths brought to 99 the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq this month, according to an Associated Press count. The toll for the past three months — 329 — made it the deadliest quarter for U.S. troops in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

At least 3,576 members of the U.S. military have died since then, according to AP figures. The number includes seven military civilians. At least 2,936 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

In other developments:

  • The Security Council voted Friday to immediately shut down the U.N. bodies key to monitoring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs under Saddam Hussein, a decision an Iraqi diplomat said would close "an appalling chapter" in his country's history. The resolution terminating the mandate of the U.N. bodies responsible for monitoring for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons was approved by a vote of 14-0, with Russia abstaining.
  • Iraqi police said a suicide car bomb exploded at Iraqi army post north of Baghdad, destroying the building and igniting a fire. There was no immediate word on casualties. The blast went off at a railway station in Mishada, a town 20 miles north of the capital, an officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
  • Iraqi police said a bomb exploded under an oil pipeline south of Baghdad on Friday, spilling crude oil and sparking a huge fire. The explosives were planted under a stretch of pipeline in the Mowehlah area of Haswa, a town 30 miles south of the Iraqi capital, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
  • A parked car bomb exploded in one of Baghdad's busy outdoor bus stations at rush hour Thursday, killing at least 22 people, and 20 beheaded bodies were found on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of the capital, two Iraqi police officers said. The blast hit a crowded hub in southwest Baghdad's Baiyaa neighborhood, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

    Meanwhile, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr postponed a Shiite march to a bombed shrine north of Baghdad that was scheduled for July 5, an aide said.

    "Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to postpone the march to Samarra for several reasons, including the government's inability to secure the route and many officials' appeals for a postponement," said Sheik Asad Al-Nassiri, an aide to the cleric. He made the announcement during a Friday sermon in nearby Kufa.

    Sunni organizations and government officials had urged al-Sadr to cancel the march to the Askariya shrine in Samarra, which was bombed for a second time earlier this month, fearing it would escalate sectarian violence that already has claimed thousands of lives.

    Al-Sadr had said the march was aimed at bringing Shiites and Sunnis closer together and breaking down the barriers imposed by the Americans and Sunni religious extremists.

    Also Friday, the British military issued a statement saying all of its bases came under attack from mortars or rockets in the past 24 hours, but there were no casualties or damage.

    Britain maintains a force of about 5,500 troops based mainly on the fringes of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.

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