Baghdad: In the deadliest attack on American forces in 16 months, a suicide car bomber struck a US military oustpost north of Baghdad, killing nine soldiers and wounding 20 others.
The bomber exploded his explosives-laden vehicle against a patrol base in the restive province of Diyala on 23 April 2007 and brought the US military death toll for April so far to 70, according to the US military.
A group linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Two knights from the Islamic State in Iraq ... driving two booby-trapped trucks hit the heart of the Crusader American headquarters in the region of Diyala,” a statement from the Sunni group of the Islamic State in Iraq said in a Web posting.
Fifteen of the wounded were later able to resume their duties, but the attack was still the bloodiest since December 1, 2005 when 10 US marines are killed and 11 wounded by a roadside bomb on the outskirts of Fallujah.
Diyala province has emerged as the new focus of Sunni Al-Qaeda fighters pushed out of western Iraq and Baghdad by large-scale US and Iraqi security operation, and has become one of the fiercest battle grounds in Iraq in recent days.
Another US soldier was killed by a roadside bombs in the Diyala town of Muqdadiyah on the same day, according to his command.
The latest fatalities took the military’s losses in Iraq to 3,330 since their March 2003 invasion, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.
A British soldier was also killed in the southern city of Basra, taking to 145 the number of British troops who have died in Iraq since 2003.
23 April was also a deadly day for Iraqi police and civilians, with at least 27 killed and dozens wounded in attacks across the country.
Here again, Diyala province saw much of the carnage.
In Diyala’s capital, Baquba, another suicide car bomber attacked a police patrol near the provincial council headquarters as representatives gathered for a budget meeting, killing seven policemen and wounding 12 more.