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Bombs in Iraq kill 5 US soldiers

Sunni mosques, Shi'ite funeral march attacked

A US Army Apache helicopter dropped flares yesterday over Baghdad. Five US soldiers were killed by roadside bombs, including four in a single strike in Diyala Province. (ali yussef/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

BAGHDAD -- Five American soldiers were killed in two separate roadside bombings yesterday in Iraq, the US military reported.

Four of the soldiers were killed during patrols in Diyala Province, a Sunni region north of Baghdad, the military said in a statement. Two soldiers were wounded in the attack. The fifth was killed while clearing roads in northwest Baghdad.

The soldiers' names were withheld pending notification of their families, officials said.

Also yesterday, three Sunni mosques were attacked south of Baghdad, one day after 11 people were killed and 45 were wounded in a truck bombing outside a nearby Shi'ite mosque, police said.

The violence in Haswah, 25 miles south of the capital, began when gunmen fired on a funeral procession for the Shi'ite victims of Saturday's bombing. Some of the mourners broke away from the crowd, then bombed and set fire to a Sunni mosque, said Captain Muthana Ahmed, a spokesman for the Babil province police. Two people were wounded, he said.

Soon after, armed men stormed two other Sunni mosques in the area, Ahmed said. The fighting subsided when US and Iraqi forces arrived, and there were no additional injuries, he said. The US military did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for confirmation.

Anwar al-Janabi, a Haswah city official, called the attacks revenge for Saturday's bombing.

The February 2006 bombing of a venerated Shi'ite shrine in the town of Samarra triggered a spasm of sectarian fighting between Iraq's Shi'ite majority and minority Sunnis that has killed thousands.

In Anbar Province, Iraqi police thwarted a bombing when they arrested a driver who stopped a truck loaded with chlorine and explosives in front of a Ramadi police station on Friday, the US military announced. The truck was carrying two tons of explosives and five 1,000-gallon drums of chlorine, the military said.

Eight people were killed and hundreds sickened March 17 in three chlorine-truck bombings in Anbar.

In Baghdad, gunmen on rooftops opened fire on Iraqi soldiers, prompting fierce fighting in the narrow streets and alleys of one of the capital's oldest neighborhoods, a Sunni insurgent stronghold and a haven for criminals on the east side of the Tigris River, the Associated Press reported . At least two civilians were killed and four others were wounded in the clashes, police said, as US attack helicopters buzzed overhead.

Yesterday's deaths raised to at least 3,239 the members of the US military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003 -- 114 of those since the security operation started on Feb. 14, according to an AP count.

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