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Suicide bomber kills 4 U.S. soldiers in Iraq

They are the first American military deaths blamed on hostile action in the country since Jan. 18. An Iraqi translator also died in the attack in Mosul, a city that remains a trouble spot.

February 10, 2009|Tina Susman

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber detonated his car bomb near a U.S. Army patrol Monday in the northern city of Mosul, killing four soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter.

They were the first American military deaths blamed on hostile action since Jan. 18, and the attack was the worst since May, when four troops also died in a single incident.

Iraq's security situation has improved dramatically in recent months, but Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, remains a trouble spot. U.S. military officials say the city has become the last stronghold of the militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has been largely run out of provinces to the south. Mosul is also a hotbed of tension between Sunni Arabs and Kurds, who are vying for influence in northern Iraq.

A brief military statement said three soldiers died at the scene and a fourth died later, along with the interpreter.

Iraqi and U.S. officials have expressed hope that the recent provincial council elections will help quell tension in the north, where the councils are dominated by Kurds and Shiites because most Sunnis boycotted the previous elections, in 2005. According to results announced last week, the Sunni nationalist bloc Hadba won 48.4% of the vote in Nineveh, with a Kurdish slate taking about 25%.

In another sign of Kurdish-Arab troubles, a bomb exploded in the disputed area of Khanaqin, a mainly Kurdish city in Diyala province that the Kurdistan regional government wants to incorporate into its semiautonomous Kurdistan region.

One guard was killed and four were injured in the attack, according to a spokesman for the guard unit.

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tina.susman@latimes.com

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A special correspondent in Mosul contributed to this report.

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