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Suicide car bomber kills 4 US soldiers in Iraq

A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle laden with explosives near a US patrol in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul yesterday, killing four US soldiers and their interpreter, the US military said.

The attack was the deadliest against US forces in Iraq this year. Only four US soldiers were killed in hostile action in all of January, the lowest monthly toll since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

US and Iraqi forces say al Qaeda militants are making a stand in Mosul after being driven from other parts of the country. Violence there remains high, though it has fallen in most of the country to the lowest level since the war began.

US and Iraqi officials had hoped that violence in Mosul might subside after provincial elections in January in which Sunni Arab parties won the largest share of the vote in surrounding Nineveh province.

The provincial government has been controlled by minority Kurds because Sunni Arabs boycotted the last elections in 2005, and US commanders say Sunni Arab exclusion from local power fuelled resentment, aiding al Qaeda and other insurgents.

The US force of more than 140,000 troops is reducing its presence in Iraqi towns and cities under a bilateral security pact that took effect on Jan. 1.


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