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U.S. forces take fight to the north

Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. forces widened their operations against insurgents in northern Iraq on Tuesday, launching an attack on the Euphrates River stronghold of Haditha only days after evicting militants from Tal Afar. Residents also reported American airstrikes in the same region near Qaim.

The Americans called in bombing raids in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of the capital. They captured one militant with ties to al-Qaida in Iraq and killed four others.

In the volatile city of Qaim, about 80 miles northwest of Haditha, residents said clashes broke out between insurgents and coalition forces. The U.S. military did not confirm the airstrike.

At least 73 people were killed and 162 wounded early today when a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle near a group of construction workers in north Baghdad, police said.

The blast occurred at 6:30 a.m. near a crowd of day laborers who had assembled before going to work on nearby construction sites, said police Maj. Musa Abdel Kerim. He said the suicide driver drove his car into the gathering before detonating the explosive charge.

Lt. Col. Moayad Zubair said 73 people died in the blast and 162 were injured. The number of fatalities was expected to rise because some of the wounded were unlikely to survive, Zubair said.

In the south, a roadside bomb killed four people near Basra – an attack that was a twin to a deadly bombing in the area last week. Iraqi police said the dead were four American contract workers, but U.S. officials were unable to confirm the nationalities of the victims. Last Wednesday, a roadside bomb near Basra hit a passing convoy of U.S. diplomatic security guards, killing four Americans.

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