3 U.S. soldiers among 25 killed in Iraq bombing
Three American soldiers on foot patrol were among 25 people killed Thursday in Iraq in a fresh surge of violence that brought to 60 the number of people slain in the last 24 hours, the U.S. military and Iraqi police said.
The Americans were killed in the south Baghdad neighborhood of Dora by a roadside bomb that detonated near their patrol, the military said in a statement. Iraqi police said five U.S. soldiers were also wounded.
A dozen Iraqis were reported killed in the blast, in a busy shopping street in a once mostly Christian area known as the Assyrian market, police said. Dora is a former Sunni insurgent stronghold that has been largely pacified with the help of the Awakening Councils, made up of Sunnis who joined with U.S. forces to fight the insurgency.
In the northern city of Kirkuk, eight members of the Awakening were killed Thursday by a suicide bomber as they lined up at an Iraqi army base to collect their paychecks. Kirkuk, which is claimed by competing ethnic groups, is one of the areas where it is feared violence could rise after U.S. troops complete their scheduled withdrawal from Iraq’s cities June 30.
In a third attack, two Iraqi policemen were killed and five hurt when a bomb exploded at their station in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Yarmouk.
Thursday’s attacks came a day after a car bomb exploded at a busy market in the Shula district of northwest Baghdad, killing 35 people and shattering a relative lull in the capital over the last three weeks. April saw a spate of high-profile bombings that caused hundreds of civilian casualties, but May had until then been quieter.
The U.S. military says the insurgents no longer have the ability to sustain prolonged bombing campaigns and instead are focusing their efforts on the kinds of attacks that grab headlines by causing large numbers of casualties.
“I think Al Qaeda is on a sort of cyclical operation in terms of its attacks, and we happen in this week to be in one of their attack cycles,” said Army Lt. Col. John Vermeesch, who commands U.S. forces in northwest Baghdad.
However, there are widespread fears that violence will rise as the insurgency seeks to assert itself ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from cities.
Times staff writer Raheem Salman and a special correspondent in Kirkuk contributed to this report.