Three U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A roadside bombing has killed three U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq, bringing the number of American troop deaths this week in the country to seven.

The latest deaths occurred late Tuesday in Nineveh province, where fighting has raged for days as U.S. and Iraqi soldiers step up their operations against al Qaeda in Iraq.

Three Multi-National Division-North soldiers and an interpreter were killed in the roadside bombing.

Earlier Tuesday, two soldiers were killed in a blast that rocked a municipal building in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood. Two employees from the Defense and State departments also were slain.

The U.S. military has blamed Special Groups, the name it uses for Iranian-backed militants, for that blast. An Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said the attackers were targeting Baghdad City Council representatives, not U.S.-led coalition troops.

On Monday, an Iraqi councilman opened fire and killed two U.S. soldiers at a ceremony near Baghdad.

The spate of killings -- which comes as U.S. and Iraqi officials tout a dramatic drop in violence -- reflects the challenges that persist in achieving stability in Iraq.

So far in June, there have been 25 U.S. troop deaths, a low total in comparison to earlier months of the war. May's death toll of 19 was the lowest monthly total of the war.

In 2007, there were 125 troop deaths in May and 101 in June.

Since the war began, 4,109 U.S. service members have died in Iraq.

Violence has flared in Nineveh province and its capital of Mosul as Iraqi and U.S. forces square off with Sunni militants from al Qaeda in Iraq.

Late Tuesday, a suicide car bomb detonated near a police station in central Mosul, killing at least two people, including a child, and wounding at least 70, Mosul police said.

It was the second suicide car bombing in Mosul this week. Another such attack took place near a police checkpoint Sunday in eastern Mosul, wounding at least 14 people.

A Mosul municipal official and his driver were gunned down Wednesday, police said.

Other developments

  • A parked car bomb killed three Iraqis and wounded seven others Wednesday when it detonated near an ice cream shop in central Baghdad's Karrada district, an Interior Ministry official said.
  • The Iraqi Interior Ministry and U.S. military tried to sort out the facts of a deadly shooting Wednesday in Baghdad, with each offering a different account. An Interior Ministry official said U.S. soldiers shot dead a male banker and two female employees when they were driving to work. Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a U.S. military spokesman, said a military convoy came under fire in a drive-by shooting. Soldiers returned fire and struck a vehicle that swerved off the road, struck a wall and caught fire. Stover said three militants were killed.
  • Troops in Nineveh conducted raids Wednesday against al Qaeda in Iraq. They killed an "armed terrorist" and detained five others in an operation near Qayyara, more than 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of Mosul. They detained three others in a raid in Mosul. On Tuesday, coalition troops killed a senior-level al Qaeda in Iraq leader, the U.S. military said.
  • Troops conducting an operation near Taji, just north of Baghdad, captured a wanted bombing cell leader. The military said a man in a building targeted by troops suffered a fatal heart attack.

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