BASRA, Iraq - (AP) A car bomb exploded Monday night in a
commercial district of Iraq's second-largest city of Basra, killing at least
20 people and wounding about 40, a police official said.
The blast went off about 8:30 p.m. in an area filled with shops and
restaurants, many of them packed with people out for the evening during
Ramadan festivities, Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaidi.
Al-Zaidi, who said 20 were killed and 40 were wounded, added that
the number of deaths was expected to rise.
Witnesses reported scenes of chaos and rescue vehicles raced to the
scene. Dazed survivors, their clothing stained with blood, stumbled in the
darkness or wept in despair.
Body parts could be seen on the street, the witnesses said.
Also Monday, six American soldiers were killed in separate attacks.
A Marine died in action the day before, making October the deadliest month
for U.S. troops in Iraq since January. U.S. jets struck insurgent targets
near the Syrian border and at least six people were killed.
Four soldiers from the Army's Task Force Baghdad soldiers died
Monday when their patrol struck a roadside bomb in Youssifiyah, 12 miles
south of Baghdad in an area known as the "triangle of death."
Two other soldiers from the 29th Brigade Combat Team were also
killed in a bombing Monday near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The U.S.
military also said a Marine was killed Sunday near Amiriyah, 25 miles west
Those deaths raised the death toll for October to more than 90, the
highest monthly total since January when 107 American service members died.
The latest deaths brought to 2,025 the number of U.S. service members who
have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.
In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said there is no
readily apparent explanation for why the number of U.S. casualties was
higher in October than in previous months. But he said the insurgents'
roadside bombs _ which the military calls improvised explosive devices, or
IEDs _ are getting more sophisticated.
"We see an adversary that continues to develop some sophistication
on very deadly and increasingly precise stand-off type weapons _ IEDs, in
particular. They're obviously quite capable of killing large numbers of
noncombatants indiscriminately, and we're seeing a lot of that, too," Di
Rita told reporters.
The insurgents continually search for new and more effective ways to
use IEDs, he said, while U.S. forces look for new ways to counter the IED
"We're getting more intelligence that's allowing us to stop more of
these things, find more of them. So we're learning from them (the
insurgents) and the enemy is learning from us, and it's going to be that way
for as long as there is an insurgency," Di Rita said.
Before dawn Monday, Marines backed by jets attacked insurgent
positions near the Syrian border, destroying two safe houses believed use by
al-Qaida figures, a U.S. statement said. The statement made no mention of
casualties, but Associated Press Television News video from the scene showed
residents wailing over the bodies of about six people, including at least
At the local hospital, Dr. Ahmed al-Ani claimed 40 Iraqis, including
12 children, were killed in the attack. But the claim could not be
APTN footage from the scene showed Iraqi men digging through the
rubble of several destroyed concrete buildings with a pitchfork or their
hands. In the building of a nearby home, women cried over the bodies of
about half a dozen blanket-covered bodies lined up on a floor. Some of the
blankets were opened for the camera showing a man and three children.
"At least 20 innocent people were killed by the U.S. warplanes. Why
are the Americans killing families? Where are the insurgents?" one
middle-aged man told APTN. "We don't see democracy. We just see
destruction." He didn't give his name.
Elsewhere, two separate mortar attacks in Baghdad and northern Iraq
killed three Iraqi people and wounded 11 on Monday.
In other strikes in the capital, two car bombs and five drive-by
shootings killed five Iraqis and wounded 10, police said. The body of an
Iraqi civilian who had been kidnapped and killed in captivity also was found
dumped on a city street.
Iraq's government has had two important victories in October: a
national referendum that adopted a new constitution and the start of the
mass murder trial of Saddam Hussein.
But the insurgents also have been killing coalition forces and Iraqi
civilians with roadside and suicide car bombs that seem more powerful and
sophisticated than before, based on technology that British officials say
apparently originated in neighboring Iran.
The constitution also was adopted despite strong opposition from
minority Sunni Arabs, many of whom think the document unfairly favors
majority Shiites and Kurds.
On Friday and Saturday, U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted several
raids in Baghdad, detaining 98 suspected insurgents and finding large
weapons caches, the U.S. command said Monday.
One cache, found hidden in a building in a second-story crawl space
beneath a bathtub, included 13 AK-47 assault rifles, three machine guns, 20
AK-47 barrels, a pistol, U.S. currency and an ammunition stockpile, the