Iraq: Five American troops die
Five American troops died in Iraq, the U.S. military announced Friday. Three of the soldiers were killed when a bomb went off near their vehicle Thursday during operations in Kirkuk province in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said in a statement. Another soldier was hurt in the explosion.
A fourth soldier died by small arms fire the same day in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, another statement said. And another soldier was killed Wednesday in a non-combat related incident, which the military said it was investigating.
Meanwhile, a curfew remained in place in Baghdad two days after suspected al-Qaeda bombers blew the minarets off a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra.
Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked the Talha Bin al-Zubair shrine late Thursday, partially damaging the building, police said. They returned early Friday, planting bombs inside the structure and exploding it completely, police said. No injuries were reported.
According to the AP, Gen. Ali al-Mussawi, a top Basra security official, said the bombers were disguised as cameramen who asked guards for permission to film inside the shrine. Minutes after they left, a huge blast rocked the building, destroying the dome and minaret, he said.
In another development, gunmen linked to al-Qaeda released a videotape showing the execution-style deaths of 14 Iraqi soldiers and policemen after the expiration of a 72-hour deadline for the Iraqi government to meet their demands. In a statement that preceded the video footage, the Islamic State of Iraq said its religious court "ruled that God's verdict should be implemented against the renegades" after its demands were not met. In an earlier video, the group demanded the release of all female prisoners in Iraqi prisons.