Bomb explosion at bus station kills 4 north of Baghdad
At least 10 are hurt; US soldier dies in 2d attack
BAGHDAD - A bomb exploded inside a bus station north of Baghdad yesterday, killing at least four people and wounding 10, police said, the deadliest in a series of attacks in northern Iraq.
A US soldier also was killed yesterday in a grenade attack, raising to at least 22 the number of American troop deaths so far in May. That's the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq since September, when 25 died.
The grenade detonated near a US patrol in the northern province of Ninevah, the military said in a statement, providing no further details. At least 4,303 members of the US military have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Insurgent activity has persisted in northern Iraq despite several US-Iraqi military operations. Yesterday's bus station bomb was attached to a car parked inside the station in the Shiite enclave of Khalis, according to local police and a report from the provincial security headquarters.
Police officers gave the casualty toll on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. The US military said the attack occurred near a vegetable market, killing at least one person and wounding 14. Conflicting casualty tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq.
Earlier yesterday, a local leader of a government-backed Sunni paramilitary group was killed when a bomb hidden on a motorcycle exploded as he opened his butcher store on the outskirts of the Diyala provincial capital of Baqubah, police said.
The head of Baqubah's main group fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, Khalid Khudeir Mohammed, confirmed the death and said Khazal al-Sammaraie was the leader of a local chapter of the so-called Awakening Council.
Major Derrick Cheng, a spokesman for US forces in northern Iraq, said the military had an initial report of at least five people wounded in the attack.
US commanders say the Sunni groups have been pivotal in helping drive down the levels of violence in Iraq. But members have been frequently targeted as insurgents seek to derail security gains ahead of June 30 deadline for the Americans to withdraw from urban areas in Iraq.
Police also said a roadside bomb struck a civilian car late Thursday on a highway linking the towns of Khanaqin with Qara Tappah. The blast killed two boys ages 8 and 10 and their father, according to a provincial police report.
Diyala, an ethnically and religiously diverse province that borders Baghdad, and Mosul to the north are considered the main battlegrounds in US-Iraqi efforts to solidify security gains. But attacks persist despite several crackdowns. The US military said yesterday that 301 people have been detained and more than a dozen weapons caches discovered in the latest US-Iraqi military operation in Diyala dubbed "Glad Tidings of Benevolence II," which began May 1.
Separately, Iraqis held a funeral procession in Baghdad for revered former national football coach Emmanuel Baba Dawud, known as Ammo Baba. He died Wednesday in Dahuk, 260 miles northwest of Baghdad, according to the Iraqi sports ministry said. The coffin was carried by mourners in a procession that included senior government and sports officials at Baghdad's Shaab stadium.