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Six More GIs Dead In Iraq Violence

The U.S. military on Friday announced the deaths of six more American troops killed in the recent barrage of violence that has swept Iraq, bringing to 11 the number of troops killed on the same day.

A U.S. Marine and soldier died in the attack by a suicide bomber who infiltrated a line of police recruits in Ramadi Thursday, and two soldiers were killed in the Baghdad area when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb, the military said Friday.

Two U.S. Marines were killed by separate small arms attacks while conducting combat operations in Fallujah on Thursday, the military said. Five soldiers were also killed by a roadside bomb south of Karbala on Thursday, the military had announced previously.

At least 189 people were killed in a string of suicide attacks and roadside bombs Wednesday and Thursday.

The eleven U.S. deaths were the most in a single day since 11 troops were killed on Dec. 1, when 10 Marines were killed by a roadside bomb while on a foot patrol near Fallujah.

At least 2,194 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began, according to an Associated Press count. The names and hometowns of the eleven troops killed Thursday weren't released.

In other developments:

  • In other violence Thursday, a suicide car bomb killed three Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Thamir al-Gharawi said, and gunmen killed three people in separate incidents, police said, raising Thursday's toll to 136.
  • Rep. John Murtha says the military is blaming him for a recruitment slump instead of recognizing mistakes that have led to an enlistment shortage. "They're trying to direct attention away from their problems," said Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated Marine Corps veteran who has become a leading voice in Congress advocating an early withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a news conference Thursday that Murtha's remarks about Iraq are damaging to troop morale and to the Army's efforts to bring up recruitment numbers.
  • The largest oil refinery in Iraq is closed again. An Iraqi official says the refinery located about 155 miles north of Baghdad had to be closed after insurgents ambushed a tanker truck carrying gas from the facility yesterday. The official also tells Dow Jones Newswires that pumping to the refinery has stopped because its reserves are full. Yesterday's ambush saw four tankers destroyed, another 15 damaged and three Iraqi army vehicles blown up.
  • Final results from the elections were expected to be released within two weeks, and were expected to show the United Iraqi Alliance with about 130 of parliament's 275 seats. That figure is well short of the 184 needed to form a government.

    Suicide bombers penetrated a line of police recruits in Ramadi and a crowd of Shiite pilgrims in Karbala Thursday, killing 125 civilians, a stark surge in post-election violence and the fourth deadliest day in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    Ball bearings from the suicide attacker's vest lay scattered on the bare earth next to Shiite Islam's holiest shrine in Iraq after the Karbala attack. At least 63 people were killed.

  • In Ramadi, a Sunni insurgent stronghold 70 miles west of the capital, Marine Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool said police recruits got back in line to continue the screening process after a suicide bomber attacked. At least 56 recruits — apparently desperate for a relatively well-paying job in the impoverished area — were killed.

    Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, denounced the violence as an attempt to derail the political process at a time when progress was being made toward a broad-based government that would include the Sunni Arabs and thus possibly weaken the insurgency.

    Iraq's main Shiite religious party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, issued a veiled threat to Sunnis supporting the insurgency that its patience was wearing thin.

    But in a chord struck by several politicians, the party also condemned policies it said were imposed by the U.S.-led coalition that were hampering Iraqi security forces' counterterrorism work. The Americans have increased their oversight of Shiite-dominated security forces following widespread charges of abuse, especially of Sunni Arab detainees.

    "Not allowing these two ministries to do their job means exposing helpless Iraqis to ruthless terrorists," SCIRI said. "They should know that the patience of our people will not last for a long time with these sectarian dirty crimes."

    The warning to Sunnis carried the possibility of using militias like the Badr Brigade, the former military wing of SCIRI, to exact vengeance against Sunni supporters of insurgents.

    Hadi al-A'meri, the secretary general of the Badr Brigade, also blamed the attacks on the U.S.-led coalition. "Why are they putting obstacles in the way of the work of the Interior Ministry?" he asked.

    The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said it was appalled by the attacks. "This terror aims simply to kill innocent Iraqis and provoke further conflict between them," the embassy said.

    The Iraqi Accordance Front, the main Sunni coalition that is negotiating with Shiites and Kurds over a coalition government after the Dec. 15 election, denounced the violence but blamed Iraq's leaders for allowing it to happen.

    "This government ... has become an accomplice in the cycle of violence by adopting sectarian policies and by weakening the state and strengthening militia groups," said Izzat al-Shahbandar, a senior official with the Sunni coalition.

    The three main attacks Thursday all took place within an hour. The death toll — the largest single-day total since Sept. 14, when 162 died

    Mohammed Saheb, who was wounded in the head in the Karbala attack, said he travels to the shrine every Thursday in advance of Friday prayers — as many pilgrims do.

    "I never thought that such a crime could happen near this holy site," Saheb said. "The terrorists spare no place from their ugly deeds."

    The Karbala bomber detonated a vest stuffed with about 18 pounds of explosives and several hand grenades, Col. Razaq al-Taie said.

    The bombing brought back memories of the deadliest civilian attack in Iraq since the war began. On March 2, 2004, coordinated blasts from suicide bombers, mortars and planted explosives exploded near shrines in Karbala and Baghdad, killing at least 181 people. Since then, however, Karbala had been relatively free of violence.

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