One Day After 2 U.S. Soldiers Were Killed in Iraq, Separate Bomb Attacks Kill 6
The attacks come one day after an Iraqi soldier sprayed gunfire at American troops, killing two of them. These were the first U.S. servicemen to die since President Barack Obama declared an official end to combat operations in the country last week.
Even after the U.S. dramatically reduced the number of troops and rebranded its mission in Iraq, Tuesday’s attack was a reminder that Americans still have to defend themselves in a dangerous country where Iraqi forces only have a tenuous hold on security. Nine Americans were wounded in Tuesday's shooting.
The attack also showed that even within the walls of U.S. and Iraqi military bases, American soldiers can still be drawn into fighting.
In the first of Wednesday’s two bomb attacks, three policemen and one civilian were killed when a parked car exploded near a bus station in Baghdad's southern Bayaa neighborhood.
A second bomb targeting police and rescue services arriving at the blast site detonated minutes later. There were no reports on casualties from the second blast.
In eastern Baghdad, two bombs near a bus station went off simultaneously, killing two civilians and wounding 12 others. Health officials confirmed the death toll.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Violence has dramatically subsided in Iraq since 2008, but insurgents still frequently strike with lethal force, targeting the country's security forces, government institutions and civilians.
In a separate development, a senior Iraqi military intelligence official said Wednesday that Iraq opened an investigation into an incident on the previous day when an Iraqi soldier opened fire on a group of American troops protecting one of their commanders during a visit to an Iraqi army base.
The American commander was meeting with Iraqi military personnel at the base near the city of Tuz Khormato, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of Baghdad.
The assailant opened fire after an argument and was killed in the shootout that followed, said the city's police chief, Col. Hussein Rashid. He did not provide details on the nature of the argument.
"This is a tragic and cowardly act and is certainly not reflective of the Iraqi security forces," said Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the American commander in charge of U.S. forces in northern Iraq.
The initial findings show that the assailant was a Kurdish member of Iraq's special forces and has participated in joint patrols and raids with U.S. troops, said an Iraqi official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The deaths bring to at least 4,418 the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The American military has reduced its footprint in Iraq from a one-time high of 170,000 troops to just under 50,000 troops as of Aug. 31.
The remaining troops are tasked with training the Iraqi security forces, providing security for some State Department missions and assisting the Iraqi forces in hunting down insurgent groups.
But U.S. troops are still able to defend themselves and their bases and still come under attack.
On Sunday, American troops in eastern Baghdad helped Iraqi forces repel an assault on an Iraqi military headquarters in what was the first exchange of gunfire involving Americans since the August deadline.
In a statement posted on a militant website, the Islamic State of Iraq took responsibility for the hour-long assault Sunday on the headquarters of the Iraqi Army's 11th Division. It was the second assault on the complex in less than a month and showed the challenges Iraqi security forces are facing after the U.S. change of mission.
Associated Press Writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.