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4 soldiers killed in deadliest day for U.S. troops in Iraq since June 29

Seven U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in all of August. Six Iraqi policemen die in attacks in the Kirkuk region of the country.

September 09, 2009|Ned Parker and Ali Windawi

BAGHDAD AND AMERLI, IRAQ — Four U.S. soldiers were killed Tuesday in bomb blasts in Baghdad and northern Iraq and six Iraqi policemen died in attacks in the country's north.

It was the deadliest day for the Americans since June 29, when four soldiers were killed in Baghdad. The next day, most U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq's cities, where their movements have since been restricted, though they have greater latitude in the countryside. Seven American soldiers died in August.

In Tuesday's attacks, a roadside bomb killed three soldiers on patrol in Salahuddin province, north of the capital, the U.S. military said. The fourth soldier died when an explosive device targeted his patrol in south Baghdad.

Before the latest incidents, the U.S. Defense Department put the American death toll in Iraq at 4,340.

It was also a bloody day for the Iraqi security forces around Kirkuk, the oil-rich northern region at the center of a land dispute involving Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens. Two Iraqi policemen were killed and four wounded in a road bombing less than 20 miles from the city of Kirkuk.

A roadside bomb also claimed the life of Maj. Zaid Hussein, who headed a counter-terrorism police unit, and three of his men in the town of Amerli, a Shiite Turkmen district not far from Kirkuk's provincial boundaries. The blast tore apart Hussein's white Nissan Patrol. The bomb was planted at an intersection on the edge of town.

Some residents blamed militants associated with the group Al Qaeda in Iraq.

"I carried the dead body of the major," said Hassan Hadi, a 28-year-old resident. The attack "has the fingerprints of Al Qaeda, which wants to ignite sectarianism."

A suicide truck bombing in Amerli in July 2007 killed about 160 people.

The country's north remains mired in ethnic tensions. The U.S. military proposed last month that the Iraqi army, U.S. forces and Kurdish paramilitary fighters known as peshmerga jointly patrol the disputed districts. The aim would be to build trust among the ethnic groups, but no formal arrangement has been announced.

Meanwhile, Iraq's government continued to investigate bombings last month in Baghdad at the finance and foreign ministries, which killed about 90 people and shook Iraqis' confidence that their capital was becoming secure.

The spokesman for Baghdad's security command, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta Moussawi, said 29 Iraqi security personnel had been reprimanded for their performance in relation to the attacks and their cases were being forwarded to a special court.

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ned.parker@latimes.com

Windawi is a special correspondent. Times staff writers Usama Redha and Saif Hameed in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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