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US troop deaths push monthly toll to 7-month high in Iraq

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  • Paul
    US troop deaths push monthly toll to 7-month high in Iraq Apr 30 10:13 AM US/Eastern By SLOBODAN LEKIC Associated Press Writer
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2008
      US troop deaths push monthly toll to 7-month high in Iraq
      Apr 30 10:13 AM US/Eastern
      Associated Press Writer


      BAGHDAD (AP) - The killings of three U.S. soldiers in separate attacks
      in Baghdad pushed the American death toll for April up to 47, making it
      the deadliest month since September, the military said Wednesday.

      One soldier died when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. The
      other died of wounds sustained when he was attacked by small-arms fire,
      the military said. Both incidents occurred Tuesday in northwestern Baghdad.

      A third soldier died in a roadside bombing Tuesday night in the east of
      the capital, the military said.

      The statement did not give a more specific location. But the eastern
      half of Baghdad includes embattled Sadr City and other neighborhoods
      that have been the focus of intense combat between Shiite militants and
      U.S.-Iraqi troops for more than a month.

      In all, at least 4,059 members of the U.S. military have died since the
      Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

      "We have said all along that this will be a tough fight and there will
      be periods where we see these extremists, these criminal groups and
      al-Qaida terrorists seek to reassert themselves," U.S. military
      spokesman Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner told reporters in Baghdad.

      "So, the sacrifice of our troopers, the sacrifice of Iraqi forces and
      Iraqi citizens reflects this challenge," Bergner said in response to a
      question about what's behind the increase in American troop deaths.

      The U.S. military said at least 10 gunmen had been killed in three
      separate clashes in eastern Baghdad late Tuesday and Wednesday.

      The latest fighting erupted at the end of March after Prime Minister
      Nouri al-Maliki launched a crackdown against Shiite militias in the
      southern port city of Basra. But it quickly spread to Baghdad's Sadr
      City, a sprawling slum with about 2.5 million people that is a
      stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of anti-American cleric Muqtada

      The militiamen have used the district as a base to fire barrages of
      missiles and mortar rounds at the U.S.-protected Green Zone which houses
      much of the Iraqi government and Western diplomatic missions, including
      the U.S. and British embassies.

      They also have fought running street battles in which hundreds have
      died. The U.S. military says those killed have been mainly gunmen. But
      police and medical authorities in Sadr City say innocent civilians have
      frequently gotten caught up in the fighting.

      Tahseen al-Sheikhly, the spokesman for the civilian side of Baghdad
      security operations, said Wednesday that a total of 925 people had died
      and 2,605 were wounded in Sadr City. But he gave no timeframe or details
      about how the figure was reached.

      Previous Interior Ministry casualty figures for the past month had
      indicated that less than 400 people had perished. It was not immediately
      possible to reconcile the conflicting figures. Officials at the Baghdad
      military operations center said they could not confirm al-Sheikhly's count.

      Also in Sadr City, AP Television News footage showed a school that had
      been badly damaged by an explosion on Tuesday. Parts of the two-floor
      building had pancaked as the result of the blast. Desks were hanging
      down from the slanting classrooms where the outer walls were blown out
      by the blast.

      On Wednesday, al-Maliki accused the Mahdi Army of using civilians as
      human shields, and vowed to continue the crackdown against militias.

      "We can't build a state along with militias," he told reporters at a
      news conference. "We want to build a single national army."

      Al-Maliki said gunmen had killed the nephew of police Maj. Gen. Abdul-
      Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman who had also overseen
      operations in Basra, by hanging him from an electricity pole in Sadr City.


      Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin and Qassim Abdul-Zahra
      contributed to this report.

      Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
      may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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