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3 American Soldiers Are Killed, 20 Hurt in Iraq

October 25, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

BALAD, Iraq — Two U.S. soldiers were killed Friday and more than 20 were wounded in widespread mortar attacks on units of the 4th Infantry Division north of Baghdad, and a soldier from California was slain by small-arms fire in the northern city of Mosul, military authorities said.

The two soldiers were killed near the town of Samarra, about 70 miles north of the capital, at 11 o'clock in an unusual daytime mortar attack. The two were off-duty, lifting weights outdoors when the attack occurred. Four others were injured. Scouts were dispatched but could not find the attackers, although they found the base of a mortar.

Mortar shells struck five other positions throughout the 4th Infantry's wide area of operations in north-central Iraq on Thursday night and early Friday. One round struck a hangar at Camp War Horse near Baqubah, about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, injuring 13 soldiers. Three were seriously wounded and evacuated.

In Mosul, a soldier was killed by small-arms fire, the U.S. Central Command reported. He was identified as Sgt. Michael S. Hancock, 29, of Yreka, Calif., who was on guard duty. Hancock was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

The other victims' names were withheld pending notification of kin. Their deaths brought to 346 the number of American soldiers reported to have died since the war began March 20.

Intelligence officers believe that the attackers are allies of Saddam Hussein's defunct Baath Party regime.

"Attacks are becoming much more regular and much more deadly," said Capt. Sean Nowland, an intelligence officer with the division's 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, during a radio briefing for smaller units.

Separately, two children were killed in a grenade attack on a police station in Mosul, police said. In Baghdad, at least two Iraqis were killed and seven were wounded when rockets fell on a marketplace in the Dura neighborhood, residents said.

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