BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP -More than a dozen gunmen launched an assault on a Baghdad police station early Tuesday, wounding two policemen, and a roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier on patrol in western Iraq, officials said.
About 15 assailants in three cars opened fire at the station in Baghdad”s Aamil neighborhood, police 1st Lt. Thaar Mahmoud said. The gunbattle lasted about 20 minutes, he said.
Extremists in recent weeks have mostly targeted the Iraqi security forces at the forefront of government counterinsurgency operations, both in an effort to shatter their morale and prevent recruits from signing up.
Sunni Arabs make up the core of Iraq”s insurgency, and the minority has felt politically embittered by the rise of the Shiites and the Kurds — two communities that account for about 80 percent of the country”s estimated 26 million people. Many Sunni Arabs boycotted January”s historic elections.
Tuesday”s deadly attack on the U.S. patrol happened west of Rutbah, about 220 miles west of Baghdad, the military said.
The soldier, assigned to 1st Corps Support Command, was evacuated to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Rutbah is a desert town on the road to neighboring Jordan.
It was the second time in two days that a soldier from 1st Corps Support Command was killed in a roadside bombing. A soldier from the unit was killed Monday near Tal Afar, 95 miles east of the Syrian border.
At least 1,722 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,325 died as a result of hostile action.
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded near an American patrol north of Baqouba, causing no damage or injuries, police Col. Ali al-Timimi said. Baqouba is 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
On Monday, a suicide car bomber wearing a police uniform killed at least 15 traffic policemen and wounded 100 others in the Kurdish city of Irbil. Thirty-seven people died in attacks nationwide.
The number of insurgent attacks has escalated since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite-led government on April 28. At least 1,189 people have been killed since then, according to an Associated Press count based on military, police and hospital reports.