60 civilians, 7 U.S. troops killed in Iraq

At least seven U.S. soldiers were killed in separate combat incidents, the U.S. military said Saturday, amid a steady swirl of violence against American troops and Iraqi civilians.

Nationwide, at least 60 Iraqis were killed or found dead Saturday as U.S. and Iraqi officials struggled to find a formula to calm sectarian passions and reduce the American troop presence.

Three U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday north of Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near an Army vehicle conducting a security escort mission. One soldier was wounded.

The U.S. military disclosed no further details about the attack, but a farmer in the Tarmiya region north of Baghdad described an incident in which a roadside bomb destroyed a U.S. Humvee near his home. A U.S. helicopter arrived to evacuate the casualties, he said.

Two soldiers were killed Friday in separate bomb attacks northeast of the capital in Diyala province. One was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. The other was killed in an attack that left three soldiers wounded, the military said.

Two troops were killed Thursday in east Baghdad in a bomb attack on a combat patrol that also left two soldiers wounded.

The deaths brought the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 3,075, according to icasualties.org.

In east Baghdad, two suicide car bombers struck a crowded outdoor market in a poor district, killing at least 15 Iraqis and injuring dozens. The bombing in Jadida was one of many recent attacks on civilians in the capital’s Shiite-dominated outdoor shopping venues.

Police and witnesses said two suicide bombers driving cars plowed into the crowds within seconds of each other just after the noontime call to prayer.

“The first explosion was very powerful, then the second explosion took place,” said Haidar Abdul-Mohsen, 37, a minivan driver who witnessed the attacks. “I saw some bodies of people. Two were completely charred.”

Authorities suspect that many such bombers are young Sunni Arab men from other countries heeding religious calls to fight against the U.S. military and Iraq’s Shiite government. Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint in south Baghdad on Saturday detained four foreign Arabs in a car containing suicide belts. Authorities declined to disclose their nationalities.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, gunmen attacked the house of a Shiite family in a western neighborhood, killing four and leaving a 10-year-old boy for dead.

Gunmen wearing police uniforms raided a shop in the city’s main computer bazaar, kidnapping the store manager and seven others, police said.

Mortar rounds struck a mostly Shiite neighborhood in north Baghdad, killing one and injuring 10. Another family on a nearby side street was sprayed with gunfire in an attack that killed one and injured three.

South of the capital, a man was killed in a drive-by shooting in Iskandariya, and police in Hillah banned vehicles in an effort to protect pilgrims walking to Karbala for an annual Shiite religious festival. Two Iraqi soldiers were shot and killed in the area.

In southern Iraq, authorities in the port city of Basra discovered the bodies of four men who had been kidnapped a day earlier. And in Suwayrah, authorities discovered the corpses of five teenagers in pajamas floating in the Tigris River. All had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, a car bomb killed two people who later were identified as would-be suicide bombers.

Special correspondents in Baghdad, Basra, Hillah and Kirkuk contributed to this report.