U.S. forces arrested four more suspects in Thursday's downing of a civilian helicopter north of Baghdad, bringing the number apprehended so far to 10, the military said Sunday.
The swift arrests, the military says, are a sign that ordinary Iraqis are getting sick of violence, and are willing to point fingers, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan.
This week the level of violence has escalated to a point not seen since before the January elections. On Sunday, a car bomb exploded outside a police academy in Saddam Hussein's hometown, and another one went off moments later as authorities rushed to the scene, killing at least six Iraqis and wounding 33, officials said. A U.S. soldier was killed in an Baghdad bomb attack.
On Saturday, at least 16 people were killed, including an American soldier, as the insurgents struck across the country with a series of bomb attacks.
In other developments:
The suspects in the helicopter downing were caught after U.S. soldiers from Task Force Baghdad were tipped off by an Iraqi civilian who told the Americans that he knew where insurgents had stashed a blue KIA pickup truck that was used in the attack and led them to the site, the military said in a statement.
Soldiers searched two nearby houses shortly after midnight Saturday, arresting three men and seizing bomb-making material in the first home. Three suspects were grabbed from the second residence and all were being questioned, the military said.
U.S. forces did not identify the captives or say where they were taken into custody.
The Russian-made Mi-8 helicopter, flying from Baghdad to Tikrit, was shot down about 12 miles north of the capital on Thursday. The dead included six American bodyguards for U.S. diplomats, three Bulgarian crew members and two security guards from Fiji.
Two groups claimed responsibility for the attack and released video to support their claims.
In one video, insurgents are seen capturing and shooting to death the lone survivor, identified as a Bulgarian pilot.
The aircraft was owned by Heli Air of Bulgaria and chartered by Toronto-based SkyLink Aviation Inc. The six Americans were employed by Blackwater Security Consulting — a subsidiary of security contractor Blackwater USA of Moyock, N.C. Four of its employees were slain and mutilated by insurgents in Fallujah a year ago.
Iraq has experienced a surge in militant attacks that have caused heavy casualties in recent weeks, ending a relative lull after the country's historic Jan. 30 elections. Iraqi leaders are struggling to form a Cabinet that will include members of the Sunni minority, believed to be the driving force in the insurgency.
At least 1,567 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.