Archive for Sunday, April 24, 2005

U.S. forces capture six men suspected of downing helicopter

April 24, 2005


— Iraqi insurgents struck across the country with bomb attacks on Saturday, killing at least 16 people, including an American soldier. U.S. forces captured six men suspected in the downing of a civilian helicopter and the shooting death of the lone survivor.

The suspects in the helicopter downing were caught after U.S. soldiers from Task Force Baghdad were tipped off by an Iraqi civilian who told the Americans that he knew where insurgents had stashed a blue KIA pickup truck that was used in the attack and led them to the site, the military said in a statement.

Soldiers searched two nearby houses shortly after midnight Saturday, arresting three men and seizing bomb-making material in the first home. Three suspects were grabbed from the second residence and all were being questioned, the military said.

U.S. forces did not identify the captives or say where they were taken into custody.

The Russian-made Mi-8 helicopter, flying from Baghdad to Tikrit, was shot down Thursday about 12 miles north of the capital. The dead included six American bodyguards for U.S. diplomats, three Bulgarian crew members and two security guards from Fiji.

Two groups claimed responsibility for the attack and released video to support their claims.

In one video, insurgents are seen capturing and shooting to death the lone survivor, identified as a Bulgarian pilot.

In other violence, Associated Press Television News cameraman Saleh Ibrahim was shot and killed when gunfire broke out after an explosion in the northern city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Iraq has experienced a surge in militant attacks that have caused heavy casualties in recent weeks, ending a relative lull after the country's historic Jan. 30 elections. Iraqi leaders are struggling to form a Cabinet that will include members of the Sunni minority, believed to be the driving force in the insurgency.

¢ An Iraqi civilian was killed by a roadside bomb on a highway in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said.¢ A roadside bomb hit an Iraqi army convoy in Mosul, wounding three soldiers, police and hospital officials said.¢ Mortars slammed into an Iraqi military base in southern Baghdad, injuring seven soldiers, police said.¢ A bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque in Abu al-Khasib in southern Iraq. Two bodies were pulled from a destroyed car and at least two were injured, police said. A leading Sunni group, the Association of Muslim Scholars, condemned the attack in a statement Saturday, calling it a "hideous crime" and warned the militants they "will not crack our unity and sow dissension between us by spitting out your venom."

A series of explosions shook the Iraqi capital Saturday. The most deadly was a roadside bomb that exploded near an Iraqi army convoy on the outskirts of Baghdad, killing nine soldiers and wounding 20, police said.

Some of the surviving soldiers opened fire in response, shooting and killing the driver of a civilian car, police said.

The attack occurred near the Abu Ghraib prison, which was at the center of a prison abuse scandal last year after photographs were publicized showing U.S. soldiers humiliating Iraqi inmates.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a car bomb targeting a U.S. patrol detonated on a busy road that links to the perilous highway leading to the airport. One Iraqi was killed and seven wounded, hospital officials said. Three U.S. soldiers also were injured in the blast, which knocked down power lines and destroyed one military and two civilian vehicles, U.S. forces said.

In al-Haswah, west of Baghdad, a U.S. soldier assigned to the 155th Brigade Combat Team, II Marine Expeditionary Force was killed when a roadside bomb exploded Saturday near the convoy in which he was traveling, the U.S. military said.

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