13 U.S. troops die in Mideast

Published May 7, 2007

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military announced 11 American troop deaths in Iraq on Sunday, including six who were killed by a single roadside bomb in Diyala province. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, an Afghan soldier shot and killed two U.S. troops.

In all, at least 95 Iraqis were killed or found dead nationwide Sunday, police reported. The largest attacks included a car bomb that claimed 30 lives in a Baghdad market and Sunni insurgent attacks on a police headquarters in Samara that killed 12 police officers, including the city's police chief.

More carnage is likely over the next three months as additional U.S. forces arrive in Baghdad under President Bush's troop "surge, " a top U.S. military commander warned Sunday.

"There are going to be increased (U.S.) casualties during this surge because we're taking the fight to the enemy, " said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, 3rd Infantry Division commander who oversees four of the five surge brigades. "We're going to do everything we can do to preclude that from happening."

But he added: "This is indeed combat operations. This is indeed war. And it's against a lethal enemy."

The deadliest attack against U.S. forces occurred in Diyala, where six U.S. soldiers and a journalist working for a Russian publication were killed when a massive bomb destroyed their vehicle, the U.S. military said. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded, the military said.

Two other American soldiers died Sunday in separate bombings in Baghdad.

The military Sunday also reported three other deaths: two Marines in a blast Saturday in Anbar province and a soldier who died Sunday in a noncombat incident in northern Iraq.

Those deaths raised to at least 3, 373 the number of U.S. military members who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

In Afghanistan, the Americans were mentoring Afghan troops providing external security for Pul-e-Charkhi prison, some 20 miles east of Kabul, said Maj. Sheldon Smith, a spokesman for a command that trains Afghan security forces.

The Afghan soldier killed two U.S. troops outside the prison Sunday and wounded two others before being shot dead by other Afghan troops. U.S. and Afghan authorities were trying to determine a motive, Smith said.

Afghan soldiers with their U.S. trainers have been deployed at the prison in connection with setting up of a new high-security wing to house Afghans transferred from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Smith said.

In Iraq, the Baghdad market bombing occurred about noon in the Baiyaa district, shattering vehicles, ripping roofs off nearby buildings and collapsing storefronts. Police said about 80 people were injured in addition to the 30 dead.

Hospital officials said two pickups filled with body parts were brought to the morgue.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which followed allegations by Sunni politicians that Shiite militias have resumed their campaign to expel Sunnis from Baiyaa.

Most of the shops in the market were believed owned by Shiites. That raised speculation that the bombing was carried out by Sunni hard-liners in reprisal for the alleged expulsions, which were believed to have slowed across the capital since the start of a security crackdown in Baghdad on Feb. 14 that includes the U.S. surge.

The attacks in Samara, a Sunni city 60 miles north of Baghdad, began when a suicide car bomber struck the police headquarters. Following the blast, dozens of insurgents opened fire on the building and at least one police checkpoint, witnesses said.

U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division came under small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire when they rushed to the scene, the U.S. military said, and two Americans were wounded.

The police chief, Col. Jalil Nahi Hassoun, and 11 other police officers were killed, officials said.

Samara was the scene of the Feb. 22, 2006, bombing that destroyed a major Shiite shrine and triggered the wave of Sunni-Shiite reprisal attacks that has plunged Iraq into civil conflict.

Also Sunday, U.S. and Iraqi forces raided the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad, uncovering in one home a weapons cache including "explosively formed penetrators" that have been linked to Iran and a torture room. At least eight insurgents died in a gunbattle, the U.S. military said.

The U.S. military evacuated the homes around it and detonated the building, rather than risk moving the explosives and accidentally setting them off, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said. He said the target of the operation was a Shiite extremist cell.

While U.S. military officials view EFPs as a weapon of Shiite extremists, Lynch said Sunday they were also turning up in the hands of Sunni insurgents.

Information from McClatchy Newspapers and the Washington Post was used in this report.