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US Military Says Spike in Iraq Violence Not a Trend


Dozens of people have died this week in bombings and gunfire across Iraq, including 12 American soldiers. The U.S. military acknowledges the toll has risen recently, but says it does not represent a trend. Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

The U.S. military said three American soldiers were killed Wednesday in a rocket attack on their base south of Baghdad. The deaths bring the total number of American soldiers killed this week to 12 after several days of deadly attacks. At least 42 people were killed on Tuesday.

In the worst attack, Iraqi police say a roadside bomb hit a bus Tuesday in southern Iraq killing at least 16 Iraqis and wounding 22 others.

The bombers were trying to hit a coalition convoy going the other direction on the same road. The U.S. military has not acknowledged any deaths in the attack, but said one soldier and one civilian were wounded in the convoy.

U.S. military spokesman Major-General Kevin Bergner:

"We are still working with Iraqi security forces, those who are also now investigating the detailed circumstances of that attack, to learn whatever else we can about the specifics of the attack itself," said General Bergner.

U.S. and Iraqi security say al-Qaida in Iraq is responsible for most suicide attacks in the country. Bergner blamed al-Qaida for the recent attacks.

"Even though violence is dramatically reduced from 2006 and 2007, this has unquestionably been a tough few days and reflects what we have repeatedly said, that al-Qaida Iraq is a resilient, barbaric enemy," he said.

But the U.S. military says the increased attacks can not yet be called a trend and is merely an upswing in violence that they hope will go down.

Sunni-led al-Qaida in Iraq is not the only group blamed for the violence. U.S. coalition and Iraqi forces have been fighting rogue elements of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. The anti-U.S. cleric declared a second six-month cease fire in February, but not all of his followers are obeying.

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