BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – An ambush on a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol northwest of Baghdad left 15 civilians, eight insurgents and a U.S. Marine dead from a roadside bomb and the firefight that followed, a U.S. military statement said Sunday.
The attack began with an improvised explosive device detonating next to the Marine”s vehicle in the town of Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, on Saturday, the U.S. command said.
Fifteen Iraqi civilians were also killed by the blast, which was followed by an insurgent attack with small arms fire, the statement said.
"Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire killing eight insurgents and wounding another," the statement said.
Also on Saturday, a suicide bomber detonated his car in a crowd of Shiite mourners north of Baghdad, killing at least 36 people and raising the death toll in two days of attacks against Shiites to more than 120.
The bomb exploded late in the afternoon as mourners offered condolences to Raad Majid, head of the municipal council in the village of Abu Saida, over the death of his uncle. Abu Saida is near Baqouba, a religiously mixed city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
Police said about 50 people were injured. On Oct. 29, a bomb hidden in a truck loaded with dates exploded in another Shiite community in the same area, killing 30 people.
Ambulances streamed into the main hospital in Baqouba ferrying the wounded from Saturday”s blast; many were rushed directly into operating rooms where doctors worked frantically to save them.
Hospital facilities were so crowded that dazed and bloodied survivors — many with serious injuries — lay in agony on gurneys in the hallways because of the surgery backlog. Doctors and nurses in blood-spattered white uniforms rushed from gurney to gurney trying to determine who to treat first.
Earlier Saturday, a car bomb exploded in a crowd of shoppers at an outdoor market in a mostly Shiite neighborhood on the southeast edge of Baghdad, killing 13 people and wounding about 20 others, police reported. Witnesses said they saw a man park the car and walk away shortly before the blast.
Five American soldiers — assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division — died in a pair of roadside bombings near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. Five others from the same unit were wounded.
Another soldier from the 101st died in a U.S. hospital in Germany of injuries suffered two days ago when his vehicle was deliberately rammed by an Iraqi car near Beiji, the U.S. command said Saturday.
At least 2,091 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said police and U.S. soldiers surrounded a house before dawn Saturday after reports that al-Qaida in Iraq members were inside, said Brig. Said Ahmed al-Jubouri, a Mosul police spokesman.
As a fierce gunbattle broke out, three insurgents detonated explosives and killed themselves to avoid capture. Five more died fighting, while four police officers also were killed. Al-Jubouri said officials were attempting to identify the dead insurgents.
In Baghdad, the U.S. command confirmed the firefight and said 11 U.S. soldiers, nine Iraqi army troops and one policeman were wounded. The U.S. statement put the insurgent death toll at seven.
Since Friday, at least 125 Iraqi civilians have been killed in bombings and suicide attacks. They include 76 people who died in near-simultaneous suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin along the Iranian border. Four people have been arrested, including one believed to have been planning another suicide attack, a security officer in Khanaqin said.
Attacks against Shiite civilians by Sunni religious extremists have occurred throughout the Iraq conflict but spiked since last weekend when U.S. troops found up to 173 detainees in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad.
Most of the detainees were believed to be Sunni Arabs, who dominate insurgent ranks, and some showed signs of torture. Iraq”s Shiite-led government promised an investigation and punishment for anyone guilty of torture.