Three suicide attackers detonated car bombs nearly simultaneously in a mainly Shiite town north of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 60 people and wounding 70 others, a hospital official said. In the western town of Ramadi, the military said a roadside bomb killed five American soldiers.
The car bombs occurred just before sunset, around 6:45 p.m., hitting a bank, a vegetable market and another location in downtown Balad, a mostly Shiite city 50 miles north of the capital, witnesses said.
Dr. Khaled al-Azawi of Balad Hospital said at least 60 people were killed, and 70 were wounded, including the town's police chief, Col. Kadhim Abdul Razzaq, and four other policemen.
Also, a roadside bomb killed five American soldiers Wednesday during combat in the western town of Ramadi, the military said. It was the deadliest single attack on U.S. troops since a roadside bomb killed 14 Marines near Haditha in western Iraq on Aug. 3.
The five dead Americans were assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force and were hit Wednesday while "conducting combat operations" in the insurgent hotbed, a statement by the Marines said.
The deaths brought to 13 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq in the past four days. According to an Associated Press count, 1,934 U.S. troops have died since the war started in 2003.
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.
President Bush had warned there will be an upsurge in violence in Iraq in the days before the Oct. 15 referendum on the country's draft constitution. More than 140 people have been killed in the past four days.
In southern Iraq, British troops handed control of Camp Chindit Az-Zubayr, southwest of Basra, to the Iraqi army on Thursday, the Ministry of Defense said in London. About 100 British soldiers had been based at the camp, which was used for training Iraqi troops, and they have moved to bases elsewhere in southern Iraq, a ministry spokesman said, declining to be identified in keeping with government policy.
© 2005 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.