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BAGHDAD — Five U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in a rocket attack at a joint U.S.-Iraqi base in the capital, officials said. It was the largest death toll for the American military in Iraq in a single incident in two years. The U.S. military did not release details of the attack, but Iraqi officials and witnesses said it occurred at Camp Loyalty, which Iraqis call Baladiyat base. The base is located in the Baladiyat district of Baghdad, close to Sadr City. Iraqi security officials said about six rockets hit the base, apparently near the Americans’ residential quarters.
Monday’s palace bombing occurred as the Iraqi army, under orders from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s national government, was attempting to take over responsibility for protecting the palace following Friday’s explosion, Iraqi security officials said.
A man detonated a car packed with explosives at the palace gate about 9:30 a.m. Most, if not all, of the dead were Iraqi police and soldiers. An Iraqi army colonel overseeing the handover operation was among the wounded.
The dead in Friday’s mosque bombing included several high-ranking Sunni officials from Tikrit, Hussein’s home town. About 10 hours after the bombing, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near the emergency room of a teaching hospital where the wounded were being treated. As many as 17 people were killed in that incident, according to a doctor who survived the blast.
Local officials suspect that al-Qaeda in Iraq might be behind the attacks. The group has been targeting Sunni politicians and tribal leaders suspecting of cooperating with Iraq’s national government or supportive of a continued U.S. military presence in the country.
Tikrit, which forms the tip of an area north and west of Baghdad known as the Sunni Triangle, has been especially hard-hit in recent months by the violence that continues to plague Iraq. Shortly after Monday’s blast, the head of national security for Iraq’s Sala ad-Din province, which includes Tikrit, resigned.
Also on Monday, in Anbar Province in western Iraq, four people were killed after insurgents apparently placed explosives around the home of a lieutenant colonel in the local police force. The police commander was not home when the explosives detonated, but his mother, wife, daughter and brother were killed, according to Iraqi security officials.
In Baghdad, at least two people were killed when gunmen opened fire on two checkpoints manned by Sunnis associated with the anti-al-Qaeda in Iraq “Awakening” movement.
A car bomb also exploded Monday morning on Baghdad’s busy Palestine Street, killing one person and injuring 10 others, security officials said. In another incident, several police officers were injured when a gunman opened fire at a checkpoint in northern Baghdad.


 



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