- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

BAGHDAD — Ten U.S. troops were killed yesterday in four separate incidents in Iraq, and a mortar attack that killed at least eight persons and wounded dozens in a secondhand goods market was followed closely by a suicide bombing in Baghdad’s mainly Shi’ite district of Sadr City, authorities said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those family members who have lost loved ones today,” said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver. The military confirmed that the 10 Americans had died but gave no further details.

The deaths raised to at least 2,917 the number of members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the war in 2003, according to a count by the Associated Press. So far this month, 28 U.S. servicemen have died.

The two mortar rounds landed and exploded in the Haraj Market in a mixed Shi’ite-Sunni area in northern Baghdad, said police officers Ali Mutab and Mohammed Khayoun, who provided the casualty totals.

About 25 minutes later, a suicide bomber on a bus in Sadr City detonated explosives hidden in his clothing, killing two persons and wounding 15, police said.

It appeared to be the first attack by suspected Sunni Arab insurgents on the large slum since Nov. 23, when a bombing and mortar attack killed 215 persons in the deadliest single attack since the Iraq war began In March 2003.

The latest eruptions of Iraq’s unrelenting sectarian violence came hours before the release in Washington of a report by the Iraq Study Group, which recommended new and enhanced diplomacy so that U.S. combat forces can “begin to move out of Iraq” as soon as that can be done responsibly.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office urged university professors and students to ignore “the desperate attempts” of a Sunni Arab insurgent group to keep them from class. The group had sent e-mails to students and posted signs at schools and mosques saying students should stay away while it clears the campuses of Shi’ite death squads.

The government also announced the capture of a senior aide to Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub Masri, who took over as leader of al Qaeda in Iraq after his predecessor Abu Musab Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike in June.

Mowaffak Rubaie, the government’s national security adviser, said that coalition forces also have detained several leaders of Ansar al-Sunnah, an insurgent group allied with al Qaeda in Iraq.

U.S. ground and air forces also conducted a raid targeting foreign insurgents near the Iranian border, killing a militant who opened fire on an aircraft, the U.S. command said.

A coalition aircraft was leaving the raid when it took small-arms fire from a vehicle below; it returned fire, destroying the vehicle and killing its armed insurgent, the command said. One suspected militant was detained in the raid.

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