BAGHDAD, Iraq -Insurgents killed nine Iraqi soldiers in a town north of Baghdad Monday, seven of them in an armed assault on a checkpoint and two others in a car bombing a short time later, an Iraqi official said.
The attacks came a day after a surge in violence — including suicide bombings and ambushes — killed nearly 60 people across the country, shattering a relative lull during the previous week.
Monday”s first attack occurred about 5 a.m., when gunmen firing mortars, machine guns and semiautomatic weapons stormed a checkpoint in Khalis, about 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, Col. Abdullah al-Shimmari said. Seven soldiers were killed.
Three people, including one civilian, were injured in that attack.
At 6:30 a.m., a car bomb parked alongside a road exploded as an Iraqi army patrol passed, killing two soldiers and wounding another, al-Shimmari said.
On June 15, a suicide bomber wearing an army uniform blew himself up in an Iraqi army mess hall in Khalis, killing 26 soldiers.
Two U.S. Marines were killed during combat operations in western Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. military said. The Marines, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2 of the 2nd Marine Division, were killed by "indirect fire" in the volatile town of Hit. Indirect fire usually refers to mortar shells.
The deadliest bombing Sunday hit an army recruiting center at Muthana airfield in central Baghdad when a man dressed in civilian clothes detonated two explosive-laden belts among a crowd of recruits, killing 25 others and wounding nearly 50, U.S. and hospital officials said. Most of the dead were believed to have been recruits.
It was the bloodiest attack in the capital since July 2 when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a recruiting center in west Baghdad”s Yarmouk neighborhood, killing 20.
Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility in a Web posting for Sunday”s attack, but the statement”s authenticity could not be verified. In February, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the same garrison, killing 21 people.
Meanwhile, a Shiite mother and eight of her children were found shot dead in their beds in Baghdad. One boy survived, police said. The father, who was not at home at the time, blamed the killings on sectarian hatred.
Tensions between minority Sunnis and majority Shiites have risen. Most insurgents are believed to be Sunnis; Shiites dominate the new Iraqi government.
In a press conference Sunday, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari criticized U.S. and multinational forces for shooting at Iraqi civilians who act suspiciously near patrols or military areas, but a spokesman for the U.S. command blamed the problem on the growing use of suicide car bombs as an insurgent weapon.
"Terrorists, through use of suicide (vehicles), have caused this predicament," said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan. "They have affected the normal level of trust that people have for one another and have made it difficult to distinguish between normal traffic and a grave potential threat."
Al-Jaafari said such cases should be handled in a "civilized" way, such as shooting at tires instead of passengers.
The U.S. military, meanwhile, released Cyrus Kar, a 44-year-old aspiring filmmaker from Los Angeles who had been detained in Iraq for nearly two months, officials said. Kar, an Iranian-American, was taken into custody May 17 near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, when potential bomb parts were found in a taxi in which he was riding.
One of Kar”s lawyers, Mark Rosenbaum, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said the government owes Kar and his family an apology "for robbing him of 50 days of his life and creating a never-ending nightmare for them."
The U.S. military defended its detention of Kar, saying officials followed procedures.
Kar”s Iranian cameraman also was released from U.S. custody Sunday, but the military said it would continue to hold their taxi driver pending the results of an investigation.
In other violence Sunday, at the Walid border crossing into Syria, two suicide car bombers killed at least seven Iraqi customs officials.
Near the northern city of Mosul, a suicide car bomber rammed into a police convoy carrying an Iraqi brigadier general, killing five policemen, the U.S. military and police said. The senior officer was not injured. Iraqi security forces detained three Iraqis on Monday who were believed to be involved in the attack, authorities said.
A suicide car bomb in Kirkuk killed at least four civilians Sunday, according to police. A second car bomb was rigged to explode as rescuers rushed to the scene, but it was found and detonated by American troops, police reported.
Two other suicide car bombers struck near Fallujah, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding a Marine, the U.S. Marines said.
A car bomb exploded Sunday evening outside a Shiite mosque in the religiously mixed area of Mahmoudiya 15 miles south of Baghdad, injuring 10 people and damaging the mosque, officials said.
At least six people have been killed and 22 more wounded, police said, in clashes that began Sunday night between insurgents and security forces in the town of Tal Afar, 95 miles east of the Syrian border.
Separately, police said they found four corpses riddled with bullets floating in a river Monday in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.