Five American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb during combat in the western town of Ramadi, the deadliest single attack for U.S. troops in weeks, the U.S military said Thursday.
The five soldiers, assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were hit by the bomb while "conducting combat operations" Wednesday in the town, which is a hotbed of activity by Iraq's insurgents, a statement by the Marines said. It gave no further details.
Their deaths came a day after another soldier attached to the Marines was killed in clashes in Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital.
Thirteen U.S. service members have been killed in violence in Iraq over the past five days. The latest deaths bring to 1,934 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Also Thursday, U.S. forces raided the homes of two officials from a prominent Sunni Arab organization Thursday, arresting bodyguards and confiscating weapons, Sunni officials said.
Sixteen Iraqis were killed in a number of shootings and other attacks in the capital Thursday, raising to more than 100 the number of people who have died in violence in Iraq this week, including seven U.S. service members.
In related developments:A judge has ruled that pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over U.S. government claims that they could damage America's image.A Pentagon analyst charged with providing classified information to an Israeli official and members of a pro-Israeli lobbying group will plead guilty, according to the U.S. District Court clerk's office. Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va., was indicted in June on charges of leaking classified materials — including information about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq — to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and an Israeli official.U.S. troops could begin coming home from Iraq next year, but it depends on conditions during and after the upcoming elections there, the top U.S. commander in Iraq told Congress on Thursday. The remarks by Gen. George Casey, along with similar comments he made a day before, represented a softening of his earlier assessment that a "fairly substantial" pullout could begin next spring and summer.In two attacks, gunmen opened fire on a Shiite bakery shop in the Dora neighborhood, killing three civilians, and on a minibus carrying government cleaners to work, killing two and wounding seven, police said. Elsewhere in the capital, two civilians and four police officers were killed in drive-by shootings, and a 12-year-old child living in a homeless shelter died when a mortar exploded nearby, police said.North of Baghdad, three members of the Al-Khalis city council were killed by gunmen on their way home from a meeting, and an Iraqi woman was killed and three other civilians were wounded when five mortar rounds hit them in Samara city, police said.On Wednesday, in a suicide bombing in northwestern Iraq, a woman disguised in a man's robes and headdress slipped into a line of army recruits and detonated explosives strapped to her body, killing at least six recruits and wounding 35. It was the first known suicide attack by a woman in Iraq's insurgency.In Washington on Wednesday, U.S. President George W. Bush warned there will be an upsurge in violence in Iraq in the days leading up to the referendum. "We can expect they'll do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom," Bush said of the insurgents. "And our troops are ready for it."
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