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Roadside bombs kill 5 U.S. soldiers in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP)— Roadside bombs killed five U.S. soldiers in Iraq on Sunday, including four in a single strike in a volatile province northeast of the capital, the military said.

In Baghdad, gunmen on rooftops opened fire on Iraqi soldiers, prompting fierce fighting in the narrow streets and alleys of one of the capital’s oldest neighborhoods, a Sunni insurgent stronghold and a haven for criminals on the east side of the Tigris River. At least two civilians were killed and four others were wounded in the clashes, police said, as U.S. attack helicopters buzzed overhead.

Four U.S. soldiers were killed and two others were wounded, according to a statement, when an explosion struck their patrol in Diyala province, a religiously mixed area that has seen fierce fighting in recent months.

A roadside bomb also killed a soldier and wounded two others as they were checking for bombs on a road in northwestern Baghdad, the military said.

Thousands of U.S. reinforcements have been sent to the capital and surrounding areas to help the Iraqis tame the spiraling sectarian violence that flared after the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra more than a year ago.

Sunday’s deaths raise to at least 3,239 the members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003 — 114 of those since the security operation started on Feb. 14, according to an Associated Press count. In comparison, 123 U.S. troops deaths were reported in the 40 days preceding the start of the plan.

The clashes between gunmen and Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad’s Fadhil neighborhood started about 1:30 p.m. when an attack on Iraqi army positions forced soldiers to call for U.S. assistance, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it had no immediate reports about the fighting.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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