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Iraq violence claims 10 U.S. servicemen

Times Staff Writer

Ten U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in four separate incidents Wednesday, and at least 84 Iraqis were reported killed by bombs, mortar rounds or bullets.

U.S. military fatalities since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 had reached 2,919 as of Wednesday night, according to icasualties.org, a website that tracks military deaths in Iraq. That total includes a U.S. soldier stationed in Baghdad who was killed during combat Sunday and whose death was announced Wednesday.

About 50,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the same period, according to Iraq Body Count, another independent group, which bases its tally on media reports.

U.S. military officials released few details about the latest troop fatalities. U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver attributed the unusually high number of deaths to “a confluence of unfortunate events.”

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“It’s unusual, but it’s not linked to anything specific,” Garver said. “Losing even one soldier is too many.”

The U.S. deaths marked the highest single-day total since Oct. 17, when 11 American service members were killed. So far 29 U.S. troops have died in December, compared with 70 in all of November.

In Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have been waging a campaign to stem civil war between Shiite and Sunni Arabs, Iraqi police reported the discovery of 45 bullet-riddled corpses. Many of the victims had been tortured before being executed, police officials said.

At least 15 Iraqis were killed and 25 wounded by a bomb that exploded near a Defense Ministry building in central Baghdad, according to U.S. military officials.

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Three people were killed and a dozen injured when a man detonated an explosives vest aboard a minibus in Sadr City, a densely populated Shiite neighborhood in the capital.

Five mortar rounds struck a market and a public square in downtown Baghdad, killing eight people and injuring 40.

Iraqi police also reported the deaths of two school officials. Gunmen killed a school principal in the Jihad neighborhood in southwest Baghdad and killed a Higher Education Ministry security official, along with his bodyguard, in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Mansour.

The three deaths followed threats to kill students and teachers who continued to attend classes. The threats were made in pamphlets distributed this week.

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A U.S. airstrike near the city of Khanaqin on the Iranian border killed a suspected insurgent. A military statement said insurgents fired on a U.S. aircraft from their vehicle. The aircraft returned fire, destroying the vehicle and one occupant.

In Khalis, a town near Baqubah, a car bomb and drive-by shooting killed three people and injured four in front of a hospital building. The blast caused a temporary loss of power at the hospital, U.S. military officials said.

In Hawija, 40 miles southwest of the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, gunmen killed a police captain, Kirkuk police Capt. Farhad Rasheed said.

A bomb exploded in a parking garage in Hillah, in southern Iraq, killing four people and injuring 12. In the southern port city of Basra, Iraqi authorities discovered the body of a police officer. The corpse showed signs of torture.

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U.S. military officials announced the deaths of two “security detainees” at two U.S.-run facilities Wednesday.

One detainee died Monday at a holding facility in Camp Bucca, according to a military statement. “The detainee had been admitted to the hospital Nov. 17 and has been under constant medical care for kidney and heart problems,” the statement said. “He was still under medical care at the time of his death.”

The other detainee died Saturday at Camp Cropper, a U.S. detention facility in the Baghdad area, military officials said. That detainee had also been admitted to the hospital, on Nov. 27, after suffering a “minor heart attack.” The detainee suffered a more serious heart attack Nov. 30, according to a military statement, and developed an abnormal heart rhythm.

The detainee deaths follow two others -- one at Bucca, the other at Cropper -- late last month. U.S. military officials said those two detainees died of natural causes.

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Iraq’s national security advisor, Mowaffak Rubaie, announced Wednesday the capture of 10 high-ranking insurgents during raids in November.

U.S. military officials said several of the suspects were members of Ansar al Sunna, an insurgent network that has staged attacks against U.S. and Iraqi troops and has links to Al Qaeda in Iraq.

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moore1@latimes.com

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Special correspondents in Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk contributed to this report.


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