April 25, 2007 in Nation/World

Sunni group claims deadly attack

Edmund Sanders Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq – A group claiming to be affiliated with al-Qaida claimed responsibility Tuesday for a suicide car bomb that killed nine U.S. soldiers and wounded 20 others in one of the deadliest single attacks against American troops in Iraq.

Islamic State of Iraq, a coalition of Sunni Muslim militant groups, posted an Internet message vowing to launch additional attacks. The claims could not be verified.

The group also boasted that it had developed “new strategies for explosions” that would allow it to penetrate U.S. and Iraqi security. Earlier this month, the group took credit for a deadly attack on the Iraqi Parliament building in Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone.

Monday’s attack against a U.S. base in restive Diyala province is the latest violence to hit the region north of Baghdad. Since a Feb. 13 U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown in Iraq’s capital, some militants reportedly have fled the capital and regrouped in Diyala and its capital city, Baquba.

Earlier this month in Muqdadiya, a female suicide bomber killed 19 police recruits as they waited to apply for jobs. In January, U.S. forces launched a massive sweep of the southern part of the province, killing more than 100 suspected insurgents.

As part of the Bush administration’s new security plan, U.S. and Iraqi forces have fanned out to smaller, local outposts, enabling them to better protect communities but also making them more vulnerable to attack. The U.S. base attacked Monday was in a converted schoolhouse.

Previous attempted car bomb attacks against U.S. bases and convoys have rarely have succeeded because of heavy security that surrounds American forces.

Since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, few single incidents have produced as many American military deaths as the one Monday. In December 2005, 10 Marines on foot near Fallouja were killed and 11 wounded by a makeshift bomb. And in August 2005, 14 Marines and a civilian interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb near Haditha.

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