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Three Killed and Dozens Wounded in Car Bomb Attacks in Iraq

The day of violence began when explosives placed under a car parked outside a Sunni mosque in Baghdad detonated just after morning prayers, killing three Iraqis.

Residents said the incident followed a pattern of intimidation by the Shiites, who make up 60 percent of Iraq’s population and whose leaders have generally decided to work with the U.S. occupiers, according to Reuters.

Several hours later, a suicide car bomber rammed the gates of an American military base in Tal Afar in northern Iraq, wounding at least 50 U.S. soldiers and three Iraqis.

Col. Michael Linnington of the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division said soldiers manning the gate at the base about 30 miles west of Mosul shot at the driver after he ignored orders to stop, Reuters reported.

“The soldiers hit the driver several times, causing him to detonate the bomb prematurely,” Linnington said. “He was definitely trying to get through the gates and into the camp.”

Most of the soldiers suffered cuts, bruises and broken bones, but four were transported to a hospital for more serious injuries, the military said. An Iraqi translator at the base was hurt, as were two Iraqis in the town.

Near Fallujah, guerrillas fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. helicopter, forcing an emergency landing Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. military said. The two-member crew walked away without serious injuries.

An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the event said the helicopter was flying in formation with another when it was hit from the ground. The craft appeared structurally intact but smoke was billowing as it landed in a field.

Fallujah is located within the Sunni Triangle where the majority of attacks have occurred since former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was removed.

Two other attacks have involved helicopters, including the downing of a Chinook transport helicopter near Fallujah on Nov. 2, killing 16 soldiers, and the collision of two Black Hawk helicopters due to ground fire near Mosul on Nov. 15, killing 17 soldiers.

The U.S. military has since introduced new tactics for its helicopters, including flying at lower altitudes to give enemy gunners less time to take aim.

On Monday, insurgents shot and killed a U.S. soldier guarding a gas station in Mosul, and three U.S. soldiers were wounded when a bomb exploded as their patrol passed, the U.S. military reported.

Three other U.S. soldiers were killed and one injured Monday when their Stryker vehicles rolled into an irrigation canal northeast of Ad Duluiyah, Army officials said. The two vehicles were traveling along a rural road when an embankment collapsed, causing the rollover, Lt. Col. William MacDonald said from Tikrit.

“The accident was not a result of hostile fire,” MacDonald said.

The names of the soldiers were being withheld pending notification of relatives. The soldiers were from the Fort Lewis, Wash.-based 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat team, and part of Task Force Iron Horse.

Meanwhile, Japan’s cabinet approved a plan Tuesday to support coalition forces in Iraq by sending 600 non-combat troops at any time during a one-year period starting Dec. 15, though there is no set date for deployment.

“They will not exercise military force, they are not going there to stage war,” said Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

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