7 More U.S. Troops Killed, 3 Still Missing

Soldiers from Delta Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, patrol in Quarghuli village, near Youssifiyah, Iraq Saturday, May 19, 2007. A May 12 attack in Quarghuli left four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi soldier dead and three comrades missing. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo
Seven American soldiers and a translator were killed in separate attacks in Baghdad and a city south of the capital, the U.S. military said Sunday.

Six of the Americans and the translator died Saturday in a bombing in western Baghdad, the military said. The soldiers were from the Multinational Division-Baghdad.

A soldier from the 13th Sustainment Command was killed and two were wounded when a blast struck their vehicle Saturday near Diwaniyah, a mostly Shiite city 80 miles south of Baghdad, the command said.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber exploded a tanker truck near an Iraqi police checkpoint outside a market west of Baghdad, killing at least two officers and injuring nine people, police said.

Police said they suspected chlorine gas was used in the attack in a town just outside the turbulent city of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. But the U.S. military said it had no reports chlorine was used.

Police grew suspicious of the truck as it approached the checkpoint and opened fire when it was still yards away. But the bomber still managed to detonate the explosives, police said.

Later Sunday, a bomb planted under a parked car exploded in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Bab al-Sharji, near the Zahraa Shiite mosque, police said. The blast killed two civilians, wounded 10 and damaged nearby houses and the mosque, police said.

Several hours later, a mortar shell landed in a commercial area in central Baghdad, killing one person and wounding three, police said.

In Other Developments:

  • President Jalal Talabani left Iraq on Sunday for a trip to the United States that was expected to include a medical checkup. The trip came four months after Talabani was rushed to a Jordanian hospital where doctors said he was suffering from exhaustion and dehydration caused by lung and sinus infections. "I will go to the U.S.A and stay nearly three weeks to lose weight and have some rest and relaxation ... away from meetings and work," Talabani, a 73-year-old Sunni Kurd, said before boarding a plane in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad.
  • The leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party has been diagnosed with lung cancer and was flying this weekend to Iran for treatment, officials close to him said Sunday. Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim suddenly flew to the United States on Wednesday for further tests after doctors at a U.S.-run hospital here detected signs of cancer in one of his lungs. The diagnosis was confirmed at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, they said.
  • Iraq's Sunni vice president spoke out Sunday against the upcoming U.S.-Iran talks on the situation in his country, saying the dialogue scheduled for May 28 was "damaging to Iraq's sovereignty." The comments by Tariq al-Hashemi, a leader of the main Sunni bloc in parliament, reflected wide differences among the country's religious and ethnic groups on the role of Shiite-dominated Iran. Al-Hashemi said he would have preferred that the subject of Iraq's stability was "tackled by Iraqis themselves."

    South of Baghdad, thousands of U.S. soldiers kept up their search for three missing comrades, more than a week after they were abducted.

    At least one U.S. soldier was killed Saturday and four were wounded as insurgents attacked the searchers with guns, mortars and bombs. The military reported a dozen other U.S. troop deaths in Iraq since Thursday.

    The search for the missing soldiers involves some 4,000 troops who "will not stop searching until we find our soldiers," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad. "We're using all available assets and continuing to assault the al Qaeda in Iraq network," he said.

    An al Qaeda front group has claimed responsibility for the May 12 attack in Quarghuli, about 12 miles south of Baghdad, that resulted in the kidnapping and the deaths of four American soldiers and an Iraqi aide.

    Army Gen. David Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, told the Army Times newspaper in an interview Friday night that U.S. forces were focusing on an insurgent who is "sort of an affiliate of al Qaeda."

    He said an informant provided U.S. forces with names of those who took part in the raid and kidnapping but they were still at large.

    "We've had all kinds of tips down there. We just tragically haven't found the individuals," he said.

    Petraeus said he did not know whether the three missing soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division were alive. But "as of this morning, we thought there were at least two that were probably still alive," he said.

    "At one point in time there was a sense that one of them might have died, but again, we just don't know."

    An Iraqi army intelligence officer, who said he helped interrogate two suspects detained in recent days in Mahmoudiya, said they confessed to participating in the raid. Mahmoudiya is the largest town in the search area.

    They said 13 insurgents conducted the surprise attack and then escaped in two groups. The leader of the group, along with some gunmen, took the kidnapped soldiers to an unknown destination, he said.

    He added that the two detainees gave interrogators the hiding place for weapons used in the ambush and U.S. troops confiscated them.