Iraq: At least 17 Americans die
A Black Hawk helicopter believed to be carrying 12 people has crashed in northern Iraq, and all aboard died, the U.S. military announced Sunday. The helicopter crashed just before midnight Saturday about seven miles east of Tal Afar, the military said, according to the AP. Records indicated it was carrying eight passengers and a crew of four, the military said.
A search and rescue operation was launched and the the UH-60 Black Hawk was found about noon Sunday, it added.
Five U.S. Marines were killed by small arms fire and roadside bombs this weekend, the military said Sunday.
Three U.S. Marines died in three separate attacks in the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Sunday, the U.S. military said in a statement. According to Reuters, all three died by small arms fire while conducting "combat operations," the statement conveyed. On Saturday, two other Marines died by roadside bombs in separate incidents, the military said. One blast occurred about 50 miles west of Baghdad, while the other took place about 35 miles north of the capital.
Elsewhere, a suicide car bomb hit a convoy of security officials in southern Baghdad on Sunday, killing two of them and wounding five others.
Meanwhile, gunmen attacked police patrols in western Baghdad on Sunday, killing one policeman and injuring 13 others, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua. A police vehicle was destroyed and another badly damaged in the clashes as the police fired back at the attackers, the source added.
French hostage alive
In another development, a French engineer taken hostage in Iraq last month was found alive in a car near a checkpoint in a Baghdad suburb, Iraqi police said Sunday. According to the AP, Bernard Planche was found Saturday night in a car from which several men fled just before reaching the checkpoint in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib suburb, said Maj. Falah al-Mohammadawi.
Planche, who worked for a non-governmental organization called AACCESS, was abducted Dec. 5 on his way to work at a Baghdad water plant. Captors later released a video of him sitting between two armed men.