Tuesday, October 3, 2006
"BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 17 US soldiers have been killed around Iraq since Saturday, including eight in a single day in Baghdad, the US military announced, saying the toll had brought "a tragic day".
The toll represents a dramatic spike for US casualties in Iraq which generally average no more than a couple of wounded a day, especially for the Baghdad-based forces.
"I don't have any comparative figures," said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, who declined to say whether the toll was an increase. "We have tragic days and this was a tragic day."
Monday saw four soldiers killed when their vehicle was obliterated by a roadside bomb in northwest Baghdad, as well as four soldiers killed by small arms fire in various other spots throughout the city.
Seven of the other US casualties since Saturday have been in the western Al-Anbar province, the center of a fierce anti-US insurgency that generally claims the lion's share of fatalities.
Since the summer, there has been an increase in US deaths there as well, though US military sources in the province say this is because of increased efforts to quash rebel strongholds in the towns of Ramadi, Hit and Haditha.
The number of US servicemen that have died since the March 2003 invasion is 2,723 according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.
Violence targeting ordinary Iraqis has been higher than usual as well, with the US military reporting that suicide bombings over the past weeks have been at an all time high."