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5 U.S. Troops Killed In Iraq, 104 In April

Five U.S. troops were killed in separate attacks this weekend, the military said Monday, pushing the death toll past 100 in the deadliest month so far this year.

Also, a suicide bomber blew himself up during a Shiite funeral in a volatile area north of Baghdad, the deadliest in a series of attacks that killed more than 60 people nationwide.

Police said the bomber detonated his explosives about 6:30 p.m. inside a tent where people were mourning a 60-year-old man from a Shiite family in Khalis, a flashpoint Shiite enclave in Diyala province, where U.S.-Iraqi forces have seen fierce fighting with Sunni and Shiite militants. Officials in Diyala and Baghdad said at least 32 people were killed and 63 wounded as the casualty toll rose from the attack.

The roadside bomb killed three Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldiers and wounded another while they were on a combat patrol Sunday in eastern Baghdad, the military said. An Iraqi interpreter also was killed in the attack.

Another Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldier on a combat patrol was killed by small arms fire in eastern Baghdad Saturday, the military said in a separate statement.

Both attacks occurred in eastern Baghdad, a predominantly Shiite area where American and Iraqi forces have stepped up their activities as part of a security crackdown that began on Feb. 14 to quell the sectarian violence.

A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West also killed Sunday while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, a Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, the military said.

The deaths raised to at least 104 American troops who have died in Iraq as April draws to a close, making it the deadliest month since December, when 112 Americans died. The U.S. monthly death toll has topped 100 five other times since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count based on military figures.

At least 3,351 members of the U.S. military have died since the war started, according to an AP count.

In other developments:

  • The head of the British army said Monday that he had personally decided that Prince Harry, the third in line to the throne, will serve with a combat unit in Iraq.
  • President Bush said Monday he wants to work with Democrats on compromise legislation to pay for the Iraq war even though he will carry through on his threat to veto a spending bill that also sets a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal. "I'm optimistic we can get something done in a positive way," he said.
  • A new audit has found that U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq are so beset with daily violence, corruption and poor maintenance that Iraqis will not be capable of managing reconstruction anytime soon. Echoing what U.S. military commanders have acknowledged in recent days, the 210-page report being released Monday found that security remains highly volatile.
  • Terrorist attacks worldwide shot up 25 percent last year, particularly in Iraq where extremists used chemical weapons and suicide bombers to target crowds. In its annual global survey of terrorism to be released Monday, the State Department says about 14,000 attacks took place in 2006, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan. These strikes claimed more than 20,000 lives — two-thirds in Iraq. That is 3,000 more attacks than in 2005 and 5,800 more deaths.
  • Iran has agreed to join the United States and other countries at a conference on Iraq this week, raising hopes the government in Tehran would help stabilize its violent neighbor and stem the flow of guns and bombs over the border
  • A hearing opened Monday to determine whether a U.S. officer should be court-martialed for nine alleged violations of military law, including aiding the enemy while he commanded a military police detachment at a main detention center here. Army Lt. Col. William H. Steele, a reservist from Virginia serving full time, faces charges that include providing an unmonitored cell phone to detainees and fraternizing with a prisoner's daughter.
  • A joint American-Iraqi raid to capture "high-value individuals" in the north Baghdad district of Kazimiyah left one Iraqi soldier and eight gunmen dead, the U.S. military said Monday. Iraqi police said the raid was targeting radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr's office in Kazimiyah. The military statement said that none of the targeted individuals were captured as a result of the operation and all detained individuals were later released.

    In other violence Monday, a suicide car bomber struck an Iraqi checkpoint in a predominantly Sunni area in Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 10, police said.

    The blast occurred at an Interior Ministry checkpoint in Nisour Square in the western neighborhood of Harthiyah. Those killed included two commandos and two civilians, while five commandos and five civilians were wounded, police said.

    The attack occurred despite stringent security measures and extra U.S. and Iraqi forces on the streets as part of a security crackdown now in its 11th week.

    Elsewhere in western Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on a commercial street in the religiously mixed neighborhood of Baiyaa, killing one civilian and wounding two others, police said.

    Gunmen also killed a retired brigadier general in the Iraqi army under ousted leader Saddam Hussein while he was driving his car in southwestern Baghdad, police said.

    A parked car bomb struck a police patrol in the Raas al-Jada, a mainly Sunni Arab area in the northern city of Mosul, killing one policeman and wounding two others, police Brig. Gen. Mohammed Idan al-Jubouri said.

    The attack occurred about four hours after some 50 gunmen attacked a police station in the same area, prompting a firefight and clashes as police chased the gunmen through the narrow streets. Four of the gunmen were killed and two others detained, while one policeman was wounded, police said.

    Police also cordoned off the area and blocked five bridges after four mortar rounds landed on the police command headquarters elsewhere in Mosul, causing no damages, said Brig. Saeed Ahmed al-Jubouri, the media director for the provincial police.

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