April 23, 2008
By Amit R. Paley, Washington Post Foreign Service
BAGHDAD, April 22 -- Suicide bombings killed two U.S. Marines and at least eight Iraqis on Tuesday, the latest in a series of attacks in areas where U.S. officials said they had weakened Sunni insurgents.
The killings underscored the threat still posed by Sunni insurgent groups even as public attention has focused on the month-old campaign by American and Iraqi troops against Shiite militias.
The first suicide attack Tuesday was carried out about 8 a.m. by a bomber driving a truck filled with explosives in western Anbar province, killing the two U.S. Marines and one police officer. The target was an Iraqi police checkpoint in the provincial capital of Ramadi, said Capt. Mohammed Allawi, a police spokesman. He said the blast injured at least 21 other people, including four women and five children.
In a statement, the U.S. military gave slightly different figures, saying the injured included three U.S. Marines, two Iraqi police officers and 24 local Iraqis.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American officials believe is led by foreigners, asserted responsibility for the attack in a statement that was posted an hour later at a local high school. It said the group has prepared "an army of suicide bombers" who will "target the centers of infidelity and apostasy" in the city.
In the evening, a female suicide bomber killed at least five police officers on patrol and one civilian in Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad. A roadside bomb near the Nineveh provincial hall in the northern city of Mosul killed one Iraqi and wounded four others, U.S. officials said.
The military also announced that a Marine was killed Monday by a roadside bomb in the southern city of Basra, where U.S.-backed Iraqi troops are battling Shiite militias.
It said another Marine was injured in the attack, but released no further details.
American and Iraqi troops continued to battle fighters loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, against whose forces the Iraqi government launched a major campaign last month.
In Baghdad's Sadr City district, five Shiite militiamen were killed Monday night, the U.S. military said in a statement. At 9 p.m., American troops fired a Hellfire missile at two fighters with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, killing them both. An hour later, U.S. soldiers killed three fighters after the troops were struck by a roadside bomb and then came under small-arms fire, the military said.
"We are not the aggressor, but we will defend ourselves and protect the Iraqi people from attacks such as these," Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, said in a statement. Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.