Five US soldiers were killed in fighting around Baghdad, including four in one attack, the US military said yesterday, as Iraqis mourned an assassinated provincial governor and police chief.
The Americans were killed on Saturday and all belonged to Task Force Marne, which was deployed in the southern belt of the Iraqi capital as part of the US counter-insurgency troop "surge."
Four of the soldiers died and four more were wounded in an explosion during fighting south of Baghdad. The fifth was killed by small arms fire while on foot patrol southeast of the capital, the military said.
At least 29 US soldiers have now died in Iraq this month.
In one of the most high-profile assassinations in months, a bomb attack killed the governor and police chief for the southern mainly Shiite province of Qadisiyah on Saturday as they were coming home from a funeral.
Governor Khalil Jalil Hamza belonged to the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council Party, part of the ruling coalition, while police chief Khalid Hassan was a political independent.
"We have issued orders for an investigation into this criminal act and for those who carried out this cruel crime to be detained so that justice can be done," the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a statement.
Hundreds of mourners attended the joint funeral of the governor and police chief held under tight security, walking behind their cortege in the holy Shiite city of Najaf to hear prayers at the revered Imam Ali mausoleum.
Carrying Iraqi flags and posters of revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the mourners set out from the local Shiite Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council office, joined by governorate and political officials.
Iraqi police and soldiers tightly guarded Najaf's old city around the shrine and vast cemetery where the governor and police chief were to be buried.
In Diwaniyah, the provincial capital of Qadisiyah, deputy governor Diaa Abdulkarim, lifted a curfew ordered after the killings and confirmed that while an investigation was underway, it had yielded no results.