Five American soldiers killed in Iraq in 24 hrs


A rocket-propelled grenade attack on a US night patrol south of Baghdad this morning killed one American soldier and wounded another, the US military said, bringing to five the number of troops killed in 24 hours.

The soldiers were attacked south of Baghdad, in an area where an Iraqi driver for the United Nations and a Sri Lankan technician working for the International Committee of the Red Cross were killed in separate ambushes earlier this month.

A US military spokesman said the casualties were Army soldiers attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Early reports from the military had said they were Marines.

Yesterday, three US soldiers were killed when a grenade was hurled at them as they guarded a children's hospital in Baquba, north of Baghdad, and one soldier was killed in an attack on a convoy in Abu Ghraib on the capital's outskirts.

Attacks on US forces have killed more than 80 US soldiers since Washington declared major combat over on May 1st. Ten have died since US forces killed Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay on Tuesday in what American officials hoped would prove a devastating blow to the morale of Iraqi guerrillas prowling Baghdad and the nearby "Sunni triangle" area.

But the feared brothers' bloody fate does not seem to have slowed the quickening rhythm of hit-and-run assaults, though it is not clear the hefty casualty toll of recent days is related.

But many Iraqis resent the US occupation and link the violence to anger over the way American troops behave.

Between 6,000 and 7,800 Iraqi civilians are believed to have been killed since the war began on March 20th, though no precise toll is available. There have also been numerous reports of civilian casualties since major combat ended.