Five U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in an attack in central Iraq, the U.S. military said in a statement. It was the deadliest single attack this year against U.S. forces in Iraq and an indication of how dangerous the country remains for American troops as they prepare to withdraw by the end of 2011.
An Iraqi security source said that the five U.S. soldiers had been working as advisers on a base for Iraqi national police in eastern Baghdad when their quarters were targeted by rocket fire shortly before 7 a.m. local time.
The U.S. military declined to comment when asked about the information and referred back to their statement.
The deaths raise the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since March 2003 to 4,456, according to numbers complied by the website icasulaties.org. Both Shiite and Sunni extremist groups are eager to target the Americans and claim they defeated the U.S. troops ahead of their departure. Eastern Baghdad is rife with Shiite militia groups -- radical cleric Muqtada Sadr’s elite fighting unit, the Promised Day Brigade, as well as a splinter group called Asab al Haq, or the League of the Righteous.
Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed in April, and two died last month in attacks.
There are an estimated 46,000 U.S. troops remaining in Iraq.
Elsewhere in Iraq, a car bomb exploded by a checkpoint in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, at a governmental compound, where Iraqi soldiers were gathered. At least 14 people were killed and another 26 wounded. Among the dead were a brigadier general and nine other soldiers and officers. The same area was targeted Friday in bombings that left 23 dead.