Al Qaeda claims killing of 9 U.S. troops in Iraq
By Ibon Villelabeitia and Dean Yates
Tue Apr 24, 12:23 PM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A group led by Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a suicide truck bomb that killed nine U.S. soldiers and wounded 20 in one of the worst attacks on U.S. ground forces since the invasion in 2003.
"Two knights from the Islamic State in Iraq ... driving two booby-trapped trucks hit the heart of the Crusader American headquarters in the region of Diyala," a statement from the self-styled militant group said in a Web posting.
The U.S. military said only one suicide attacker was involved in Monday's strike on a military outpost at Diyala, north of Baghdad, scene of fierce fighting between American troops and Sunni Arab insurgents and al Qaeda militants.
Two witnesses said the outpost was located in an old school in the village of al-Mukhisa.
One said an initial suicide truck bomb exploded inside the yard after ramming through barricades. Another suicide truck bomb followed shortly after, he said.
"The building collapsed ... There was a huge fire," said the witness, who declined to be identified.
The second witness said the explosions were followed by a raging gun battle.
Near the city of Ramadi in western Anbar province, a suicide truck bomb killed 25 people and wounded 44, police said. They said the attack targeted police and civilians.
While frontal assaults by insurgents against heavily fortified U.S. bases in Iraq are rare, a two-month-old security plan that places troops in less protected garrisons in Baghdad and neighboring areas has exposed them to greater risk.
In an interview to an Egyptian television station broadcast in Iraq on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Iraq had become the "most prominent arena in the fight against al Qaeda."
The bombing of the U.S. outpost came as a showdown between President George W. Bush and Congress deepened over Democrat efforts to set a timetable for the withdrawal of nearly 150,000 troops. Congress will vote this week on a funding bill that sets March 31, 2008 as the goal for pulling out most troops, but Bush repeated on Tuesday his vow to use his presidential veto.
FIGHTING FOR THE PROVINCE
A U.S. military statement said the attack in Diyala took place near Baquba, capital of the province, a religiously mixed area where U.S. commanders last month sent 1,000 extra troops.
"We have seen a lot of recent attacks up in Diyala ... that have been part of the fight for the province," said U.S. military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Garver.
At least 86 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq this month, making April the deadliest since December, when 112 were killed.
At least 3,333 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops have been deployed in Baghdad since February under the security crackdown that is seen as a last-ditch attempt to halt Iraq's slide into all-out sectarian civil war.
That has prompted insurgents to focus their attacks outside the capital in provinces where U.S. commanders say Sunni Arab insurgents and al Qaeda militants have regrouped.
On Tuesday, gunmen wearing uniforms of the Iraqi army raided a neighborhood in Baquba, killing six people, wounding 15 and burning several homes, police said. A suicide car bomber on Monday killed 10 Iraqi policemen during a gathering of senior police officials in Baquba, including the city's police chief.
In the previous worst ground attack against U.S. forces in Iraq, 10 U.S. Marines were killed near Falluja in a bombing on December 1, 2005.
Bush's plan to send 30,000 additional troops has reduced the number of sectarian killings in the capital, but there has been a surge in car bombings inside and outside Baghdad.
I want you to consider for a moment the mindset that it takes to be a suicide bomber. Can you imagine the hatred for your enemy? The conviction in your heart that you are serving a higher purpose and will be rewarded in the next life? Can you for one moment imagine the lack of concern for who your victims will be? Can you comprehend not caring if there are innocent women and children bystanders who will be affected by the blast of your detonation?
Can you imagine when it starts happening here if we give them the cajones because we've left the Middle East? I can. I can imagine what the response will be, particularly here in the south where lynching is still a part of the vocabulary when people commit particularly heinous crimes. I can imagine it full and well, and it's not a pretty sight.
Just something to think about.
I know the Leftinistra's are going to come out in full force crying foul over my thoughts on this. "That can't happen here." "There's no way you can think that that will happen here if we pull out of Iraq."
We shall see, I suppose, if the unthinkable happens and we DO cut and run. And when we do, and people of Arabic origins are being pulled out of their stores, and out of their homes, or where ever, to be "handled" by angry mobs, I want you nay sayers to look back at this and remember it, and remember it well.