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Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2007

Attacks on patrols, Iraqi police kill 7 as clashes erupt in Diyala

December 16, 2007

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U.S. deaths

As of Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, at least 3,892 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

— A series of attacks on Iraqi police and volunteer patrols killed at least seven people in Baghdad and neighboring provinces on Saturday, including Diyala, where clashes erupted in villages ringing the provincial capital, officials said.

The U.S. military also announced the death of an American soldier shot Friday in northern Ninevah province.

Early Saturday in eastern Baghdad, a pair of synchronized roadside bombs targeted a passing police patrol, killing two civilians. The second bomb detonated about two minutes after the first, hitting bystanders who had gathered at the site, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of the attack.

In the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Azamiyah, a member of a U.S.-backed volunteer patrol was killed by an explosives-rigged bag he received from a stranger who claimed to have found it in the street, according to Iraqi army Col. Riadh al-Samaraie. The explosion wounded a second volunteer, al-Samaraie said.

Sunnis have been turning against al-Qaida in significant numbers and signing up for the volunteer security forces - partly in disgust at the militant group's brutal tactics, and partly to seek American protection against what they see as government-backed Shiite militias. American officials say the volunteers now number about 72,000 nationwide, and as their numbers grow, they are increasingly targeted.

In southern Baghdad, gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by another of the anti-al-Qaida groups, and three of the volunteers were wounded, police said. At a similar roadblock in Salahuddin province, about 55 miles north of the capital, gunmen in a passing car opened fire on the volunteers, killing one, police said.

And in neighboring Diyala, which has suffered from repeated al-Qaida attacks, the provincial deputy police chief resigned on Friday after al-Qaida abducted his son and threatened to kill him. Brig. Gen. Ayad Ismael quit in hopes his son - kidnapped two weeks ago - would be freed, said Diyala police Brig. Gen. Khudhayer al-Timimi.

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