BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber struck a crowd of funeral mourners yesterday north of Baghdad, taking more than 30 lives at the end of one of the deadliest months of the war so far for U.S. forces. At least 104 American troops were reported killed in April.
The rising toll among Americans pointed to a potentially deadly trend: More troops exposed to more dangers as they try to reclaim control of Baghdad under the joint security plan being implemented by U.S. and Iraqi forces.
Bombings and shootings nationwide yesterday killed at least 102 people, counting the funeral attack.
After sunset, there was no let up. Thunderous explosions rocked central Baghdad - apparently from rockets fired toward the U.S.-controlled Green Zone. Warning sirens sounded in the heavily protected district, and witnesses saw smoke rising from the area. The U.S. military said it had no immediate information about damage or casualties.
Five U.S. military deaths were announced yesterday. All but one occurred over the weekend in Iraq's capital, where a nearly 11-week security crackdown has put thousands of additional American soldiers on the streets - making them targets for both Shiite and Sunni extremists.
In a statement, the U.S. command said three American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb Sunday in eastern Baghdad. Another U.S. soldier was killed Saturday by small-arms fire in the same area, the statement said.
A Pennsylvania Marine, 1st Lt. Travis L. Manion, of Doylestown, died Sunday in combat in Anbar province.
President Bush has committed some 30,000 extra American troops to the security operation in Baghdad, but today - the anniversary of his "Mission Accomplished" speech, was to be presented legislation by the Democratic-led Congress calling for U.S. troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq by Oct. 1. Bush has promised to veto the measure.
American casualties are rising, but U.S. officials say the Baghdad crackdown has reduced civilian deaths in the capital since the security operation was launched Feb. 14. *