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4 U.S. troops, 1 Afghan killed

KABUL – A roadside bomb killed four U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, inflicting the year’s deadliest single attack on international forces a week after Washington set plans to send reinforcements. An Afghan civilian working with the Americans also died. The Americans were patrolling with Afghan soldiers when their vehicle struck a bomb Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. military said in a statement. The military withheld identities of the dead and the attack’s location pending notification of relatives.

Three U.S. troops dead in attack

BAGHDAD – Three U.S. soldiers and an interpreter were killed Monday during fighting north of Baghdad, the military announced. The combat took place in the Diyala province, an area northeast of Baghdad that remains volatile despite an overall drop in violence nationwide.

Revived Iraqi museum reopens

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s restored National Museum reopened Monday with a red-carpet gala in the heart of Baghdad nearly six years after looters carried away priceless antiquities as American troops largely stood by in the chaos of the city’s fall to U.S. forces. The ransacking of the museum became a symbol for critics of Washington’s post-invasion strategy and its inability to maintain order as Saddam Hussein’s police and military unraveled.

World in brief: Seoul: N. Korea deployed missile

North Korea recently deployed a new type of medium-range ballistic missile capable of reaching northern Australia and the U.S. territory of Guam, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said today. The report comes amid speculation that the isolated regime also is preparing to test-fire another, longer-range missile capable of hitting Alaska.

In trial, shoe flinger cites Bush’s ‘icy smile’

BAGHDAD – It was the hottest ticket in town, drawing spectators from as far away as Sweden and sparking a scramble for choice seats. Police formed human chains to block crowds that surged to glimpse the star attraction: a defiant-looking man in black loafers. This time, Muntadher al-Zeidi’s loafers stayed on as he went on trial Thursday for hurling his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in December. If convicted of assaulting a visiting head of state, the Iraqi journalist could face 15 years in prison. But with a legal dream team objecting to the case on technicalities, court was adjourned after 90 minutes until March 12, when a three-judge panel will decide if the charge is warranted.

Protesters demand release of Iraqi reporter

BAGHDAD – About 100 people staged a protest in Baghdad on Wednesday to demand the release of the Iraqi who threw his shoes at ex-President George W. Bush on the eve of the TV journalist’s trial. A lawyer for journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, 30, said the defense would ask for a postponement when court convenes today in western Baghdad.

Iraqis admit election fraud

BAGHDAD – Iraqi officials acknowledged Sunday that there was some fraud in last month’s provincial elections but not enough to force a new vote in any province. Faraj al-Haidari, chairman of the election commission, said final results of the Jan. 31 voting would be certified and announced this week. Voters chose members of ruling provincial councils in an election seen as a dress rehearsal for parliamentary balloting by the end of the year.

At least 22 killed in Iraq attacks

More than a dozen Iraqis were killed and 43 were wounded Wednesday in back-to-back car bombings at a bus station in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood in south Baghdad, police said. The bombings were part of a bloody day in which at least 22 people died in attacks throughout Iraq, breaking a relative calm that the country has enjoyed in recent months.

Iraqi women’s minister quits

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s state minister for women’s affairs has quit to protest a lack of resources for a daunting task: improving the lives of “a full army of widows” and other women left poor or abandoned by war. In an interview Sunday with the Associated Press, Nawal al-Samarraie described how her office’s budget was so tight that she often found herself dipping into her own pockets for the women who came begging for help.

Community says goodbye

COLVILLE – Benjamin Todd was remembered Friday as a high-spirited man with a sense of adventure, an unassuming guy whose attitude about life was not hardened by multiple combat tours as a U.S. Army Ranger and helicopter pilot. At an overflow funeral service in the Colville Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an Army general presented the 29-year-old soldier’s family with a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, and the city’s mayor read a proclamation declaring Friday to be Benjamin Todd Day.

Al-Maliki bloc sweeps provincial votes

BAGHDAD – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s allies swept to victory over Shiite religious parties during last weekend’s provincial elections in Iraq – a rousing endorsement of his crackdown on extremists, according to official results released Thursday. The impressive showing, which must be certified by international and Iraqi observers, places al-Maliki in a strong position before parliamentary elections late this year and could bolster U.S. confidence that it can begin withdrawing more of its 140,000 troops.

Sunni tribes protest Iraq elections

RAMADI, Iraq – Provincial elections that were meant to strengthen democratic rule in Iraq and distribute power more equally are now threatening to upend almost two years of peace in Anbar province, the vast western desert where al-Qaida in Iraq once operated freely. With preliminary polling results scheduled for release as early as Thursday, tribes of the Anbar Awakening and other clans that helped U.S. forces crush the insurgency here have charged that last Saturday’s elections were a sham. The tribes insist that they were double-crossed by the region’s sitting government and suggest menacingly that violence will return to Anbar if their rivals continue to hold power.

Woman claims she recruited bombers

BAGHDAD – A woman accused of helping recruit dozens of female suicide bombers looked into the camera and described the process: trolling society for likely candidates and then patiently converting the women from troubled souls into deadly attackers. The accounts, in a video released Tuesday by Iraq police, offer a rare glimpse into the networks used to find and train the women bombers who have become one of the insurgents’ most effective weapons as they struggle under increasing crackdowns.

Iraqi turnout less than predicted

BAGHDAD – Just more than half of Iraq’s 15 million registered voters cast ballots in weekend provincial elections, with turnout as low as 40 percent in at least one province, but Iraqi and international officials insisted Sunday that they were satisfied with the participation. U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker characterized the turnout as “large,” and Iraq’s top election official called it “the most important election to take place since the fall” of Saddam Hussein. However, turnout failed to reach the 73 percent predicted by a recent Iraqi government poll of 4,570 Iraqis.

Combat gear’s weight triggers injury spike

WASHINGTON – Carrying heavy combat loads is taking a quiet but serious toll on troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, contributing to injuries that are sidelining them in growing numbers, according to senior military and defense officials. Rising concern over the muscle and bone injuries – as well as the hindrance caused by the cumbersome gear as troops maneuver in Afghanistan’s mountains – prompted Army and Marine Corps leaders and commanders to launch initiatives last month that will introduce lighter equipment for some U.S. troops.

Security gains likely to benefit Al-Maliki

BAGHDAD – A young Sunni man strolling along the Tigris River hesitated when asked whom he had voted for in provincial elections Saturday. Then he gave an answer that would have seemed unthinkable during the depths of Iraq’s bloody civil war: “Our prime minister” – the Shiite head of the government, Nouri al-Maliki. Along Haifa Street, where high-rises once served as shooting galleries for Sunni gunmen battling U.S. troops, another Sunni voter was coy about his choice but hinted that he too is pleased with the job al-Maliki has done. “Definitely I’m happy,” the elderly man said when asked his opinion of the current state of affairs in Iraq.

Iraq locked down as voting begins

BAGHDAD – Iraq imposed a nationwide security lockdown as voting began today in key regional elections with blanket measures not seen since the deadliest years of the insurgency, underscoring the high stakes for Iraqi leaders desperate to portray stability after nearly six years of conflict. Although violence is down sharply – and with pre-election attacks relatively limited – authorities were unwilling to take any risks. They ordered cars off city streets, sealed borders and closed airports.

Colville man died in Iraq copter crash

A Colville man was one of four soldiers killed when two helicopters crashed Monday in northern Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, 29, was flying one of the Kiowa Warrior helicopters that crashed in Iraq’s Tamim province.

Iraq takes step to oust Blackwater

BAGHDAD – Blackwater Worldwide, the security company accused of using excessive deadly force while protecting U.S. diplomats in Baghdad, would be barred from future work in Iraq under a decision by Baghdad officials to pull the firm’s security license. “We have been informed that Blackwater’s private security company operating license will not be granted,” a U.S. Embassy official said Thursday. “We don’t have specifics about dates. We are working with the government of Iraq and our contractors to address the implications of this decision.”

Colville soldier dies in helicopter crash in Iraq

A Colville man was one of four soldiers killed when two helicopters crashed Monday in northern Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin H. Todd, 29, was flying one of two Kiowa Warrior helicopters that crashed in Iraq’s Tamim province, about 20 miles west of Kirkuk.