Iraq: Five US soldiers dead
Some 50 gunmen attacked a American base in the center of a city north of Baghdad on Friday, sparking a battle with U.S. troops and helicopters that left at least six attackers dead, the Iraqi army said. The fighting took place in Baqouba, the AP reported.
In the capital, two Iraqi journalists working for ABC News were killed as they drove home from work, the network said. Unidentified assailants killed cameraman Alaa Uldeen Aziz, 33, and soundman Saif Laith Yousuf, 26, the network added, according to the AP.
Also in Baghdad, two U.S. soldiers were killed and nine injured in separate attacks Thursday, the military said Friday. Three other American soldiers were killed Thursday and another was wounded in a roadside bombing south of Baghdad, the U.S. military reported. Mortar rounds also hit the U.S. Air Force base at Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, destroying one helicopter and damaging nine others, Iraqi police said.
Across the country, at least 58 Iraqis on Thursday were killed or found dead in bombings, shootings and mortar attacks, police said. They included 42 bullet-riddled bodies of apparent victims of so-called sectarian death squads.
Meanwhile, American officials expressed cautious optimism Thursday that the three missing soldiers are still alive. According to the AP, FBI agents and Australian forensic experts have joined the search for the soldiers, who disappeared after an attack south of Baghdad on Saturday.
Lt. Col. Randy Martin, a U.S. military spokesman, said five days of searches had produced a number of leads that "point to the fact that these men are still alive." "There are also reports to the contrary. But we have an obligation to follow on every intelligence tip," Martin said.
"There is cautious optimism that in fact these soldiers can be found alive," Martin said. "That's what we pray for, that's what we hope for."
Col. Michael Kershaw, a brigade commander, said some physical evidence associated with the missing soldiers had been found, raising hopes they were alive.