Ten die in six suicide bombings in Iraq

At least six suicide bombers blew themselves up in Baghdad and northern Iraq on Friday, killing 10 people and wounding about 60 in attacks targeting Iraqi and United States forces, security officials said.

Five attacks were carried out with cars in Baghdad and the the sixth, in the north of the country, by a man on a motorbike who killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded a third at a checkpoint in the town of Al-Sharqat.

In Baghdad, eight people were killed and 28 wounded when a suicide bomber struck an Iraqi army checkpoint in Ash-Shab, in the north of town, an interior ministry spokesperson said.

It was not immediately known how many were soldiers and how many civilians.

Another car bomber wounded five Iraqi soldiers and one civilian in an attack on an army convoy near Andalous square, in the city centre.

A third bomber attempted to ram a pickup truck through the main gate of an army camp in Bab al-Moadham, the former defence ministry. The blast wounded 19 Iraqi soldiers.

US forces also came under attack in the capital. Two US soldiers were hurt by a suicide bomber in the southeast of the capital, the US military said.

And a US convoy was targeted in Al-Amanah, in the southeast of the capital, by yet another suicide bomber who wounded three civilians, police said.
There was no immediate word on any US casualties.

US losses since the 2003 invasion meanwhile climbed to 1 753 after the US military reported the deaths of two marines killed by a bomb on Thursday near the Trebil border crossing with Jordan, according to an Agence France Presse toll based on Pentagon figures.

In other violence, four civilians were wounded when their car hit a roadside bomb near the key northern refinery town of Baiji, police said.

And three people were killed and three wounded when gunmen opened fire on their car in Latifiyah, in the so-called ‘triangle of death’ south of Baghdad, police added.

In the central city of Samarra, US troops battled Iraqi insurgents on the streets, an AFP reporter on the scene said.

Armed with Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, the rebels were openly patrolling the streets of the Muhtassem neighbourhood as explosions and automatic weapon fire echoed around the town.

US forces downplayed the exchanges, saying their forces were engaged by small arms fire in two separate incidents on Friday morning.

“But there have been no significant exchanges,” a spokesperson said.

Hospital officials said two people were killed and three wounded in the city, which was the scene of a major US counter-insurgency operation last autumn.

Meanwhile, former CIA chief John Deutch suggested the United States should cut its losses, pull out of Iraq promptly and never again use its military might to engage in nation-building.

In a column in the New York Times, he said the US military presence in Iraq was harming US interests in the Arab world, detracting attention from other “important security challenges ... North Korea, Iran and international terrorism,” and weakening the US military.

“Those who argue that we should ‘stay the course’ because an early withdrawal ... would hurt America’s global credibility must consider the possibility that we will fail in our objectives in Iraq and suffer an even worse loss of credibility down the road,” he said.

Deutch headed the Central Intelligence Agency from 1995 to 1996 after serving as deputy defence secretary from 1994 to 1995.

His comments came amid plummeting US public support for the war. - Sapa-AFP

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