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String of Attacks in Iraq Leaves Five U.S. Soldiers Dead

One of the U.S. soldiers killed was in a convoy that came under attack near the town of Baquba early Friday, said Capt. Jefferson Wolfe of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. Another soldier was injured, but troops returned fire, killing two attackers, he said.

In a separate incident in the same area, a soldier tried to defuse a homemade bomb, but it exploded, killing him.

A similar roadside bomb killed another soldier in Balad, a town north of Baghdad, the U.S. military told news agencies.

Two other U.S. soldiers were killed in a mortar attack on a U.S. camp near Baquba late Thursday. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack, Maj. Josslyn Aberle of the 4th Infantry Division said.

Baquba, some 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, is considered a center of guerrilla activity in a Sunni Muslim area that served as a power base for Saddam’s regime. U.S. forces have conducted numerous raid and made several arrests in the area in an effort to combat the insurgents.

A total of 11 U.S. soldiers have died in hostile action since Monday.

Insurgents also wounded two Polish soldiers in an ambush in southern Iraq, the latest in a series of attacks against the forces of countries that have sent troops to help secure Iraq after the May 1 end of major combat.

The attacks followed a tense Christmas Day in Baghdad in which guerillas launched rockets and mortars at numerous targets including hotels used by Westerners, the Iranian and Turkish embassies and an apartment block. Others landed near the U.S.-led administration compound.

Two civilians, a woman and her daughter sleeping in an apartment, were hurt in the attacks and damage was reported to be limited.

The U.S. military said it had arrested 66 people in a night raid in Baghdad, including a military figure with links to Saddam and 20 other “significant” individuals.

Violence also claimed the lives of several Iraqis late this week, including two who were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near the Baghdad airport on Friday, witnesses said. There were no further details, according to Reuters.

In a separate attack, gunmen killed Sheikh Talal al-Khalidi, a tribal chief who sat on the U.S.-appointed local council in the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi police said. A grenade was thrown at Iraqi policemen when they arrived to investigate the slaying, the police told news agencies. One officer was wounded.

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