Two marines were killed by insurgents in Anbar Province on Sunday, the American military command said, and three American soldiers died a day earlier in a bombing in southern Baghdad, bringing the total of American troop deaths in Iraq this month to at least 53, an extraordinarily high midmonth tally.
At the current rate of American troop deaths, almost four a day, October is on track to be the third-deadliest month of the entire conflict for the military, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, an independent Web site that tracks war-related casualties. The two most deadly months coincided with major American offensives against entrenched guerrilla fighters.
The rise now, in spite of improvements in body and vehicle armor, followed a decision by commanders to increase the number of American troops patrolling Baghdad in an effort to quell the sectarian violence that has engulfed the city.
The above is from Kirk Semple's "5 Americans Killed in Iraq, Bringing Month's Toll to 53" in this morning's New York Times. Semple also notes that 30 corpses were discovered in Baghdad (actually, he notes a great deal, but in last night's entry, only the corpses discovered near Falluja were noted, so the Baghdad discovery needs to be noted). Since he filed his piece, the count has climbed higher. It's now 54 and the AP notes that "on the outskirts of Baghdad" a US soldier died Sunday from a roadside bomb (the military announced this today).
Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Muhanned Saif Aldin's "Dozens Of Iraqis Killed in Reprisals" (Washington Post):
Militias allied with Iraq's Shiite-led government roamed roads north of Baghdad, seeking out and attacking Sunni Arab targets Sunday, police and hospital officials said. The violence raised to at least 80 the number of people killed in retaliatory strikes between a Shiite city and a Sunni town separated only by the Tigris River.
The wave of killings around the Shiite city of Balad was the bloodiest in a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday. The victims included 12 people who were killed in coordinated suicide bombings in the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk.
[. . .]
The violence around Balad, a Shiite enclave in a largely Sunni region, began Friday with the kidnapping and beheading of 17 Shiite farmworkers from Duluiyah, a predominantly Sunni town. Taysser Musawi, a Shiite cleric in Balad, said Shiite leaders in the town appealed to a Baghdad office of Moqtada al-Sadr, an influential Shiite cleric, to send militiamen to defend local Shiites and to take revenge. Sadr's political party is a member of a Shiite religious alliance that governs Iraq.
Shiite fighters responded in force, local police said. Witnesses said Shiite fighters began hunting down Sunnis, allegedly setting up checkpoints in the area to stop travelers and demand whether they were Shiite or Sunni.
By Sunday afternoon, 80 bodies were stacked in the morgue of the Balad hospital, the only sizable medical center in the region, physician Kamal al-Haidari said by telephone. Most of the victims had been shot in the head, he said. Other hospital officials said some of the bodies had holes from electric drills and showed other signs of torture. The majority of the victims were believed to be from Duluiyah.
So that's Iraq, now we're going to an incident in Australia. Skip notes Lincoln Wright's "'Suicide soldier' siege" (Courier-Mail):
A DRAMATIC siege at Australia's elite officer training college in Canberra ended after police overwhelmed a suicidal soldier armed with an assault rifle.
The soldier waved the automatic rifle around and pointed it at himself and others during the hour-long siege at the Australian Defence Force Academy on Wednesday.
His terrified colleagues contacted the Australian Federal Police, who laid siege to the academy for an hour.
Police blocked roads and other access points at the site next to the Defence Department.
[. . .]
The drama at the academy comes as the Defence Force struggles to deal with the fallout from the mysterious death of Private Jake Kovco, who was killed with a shot from his own handgun in Baghdad in April.
Jake Kovco died on April 21st in Baghdad. A military inquiry recently concluded and the report is supposed to be forthcoming. Kovco was Australia's first fatality in the war.
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