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US military says American soldier killed in Iraq; first US combat death this month
BAGHDAD (AP) ' The U.S. military says an American solider has been killed in northern Iraq by indirect fire as he was preparing to go out on an operation.
A statement released by U.S. forces in Iraq said the soldier was killed Thursday, but gave no other details. The soldier was not identified, pending notification of next of kin.
In a teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon, U.S. Maj. Gen. David Perkins said the soldier was about to go on a military operation when he was hit by indirect fire in northern Iraq.
This marks the first time a U.S. soldier has been killed in combat since July.
It brings to 4,478 the number of American troops who have died in Iraq since the war started in 2003. That's according to an Associated Press count.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) ' A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed car Thursday near a bank where policemen were picking up their paychecks in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing two people and wounding as many as 60, officials said.
Kirkuk police spokesman Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said a policeman and a civilian died in the blast, and that most of the wounded were policemen.
Col. Salam Zangna, a security official in Kirkuk Hospital, confirmed the deaths and said about 60 others had been injured.
"My children are waiting for me to come with the salary today in order to buy school bags and stationery," policeman Mirwan Sadiq said. "Instead the family will receive sad news about me."
Sadiq had been standing in line near the bank's front door when the blast knocked him down and into a wall. He was among those wounded in the attack.
"These merciless terrorists do not differentiate between military and civilians," Sadiq added.
Kirkuk is located 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad. The city has for years been rife with tensions among Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkomen who all claim rights to the oil-rich land.
Security officials across Iraq are often the target of deadly attacks ' in part because militants accuse them of working with U.S. forces who are training them. Attacks on security forces have stepped up in recent years as extremists attempt to highlight Iraq's continued vulnerability ahead of a planned U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of the year.
A police officer was also killed Thursday by gunmen on a motorbike in Baghdad, officials said.
Separately, an employee for Iraq's government-run TV channel died Thursday from gunshot wounds he sustained in an attack late Wednesday, police and hospital officials said. Officials in Baghdad spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Meanwhile, lawmaker Ziyad al-Tharib said a former electricity minister who was arrested on Wednesday for questioning about alleged corruption was released Thursday. Attempts to reach Raad Shalal about his arrest were unsuccessful.
Al-Tharib said authorities sought details about alleged corruption at the ministry in 2007, before Shalal headed it. Shalal was arrested with a warrant Wednesday issued by the government's integrity commission after he refused to answer several police requests for an interview.
Shalal was fired in August after being accused of failing to follow guidelines in signing deals worth $1.7 billion to build power stations in Iraq. Both al-Tharib and Shalal are members of the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political coalition.
Yacoub reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writers Hamid Ahmed and Lara Jakes contributed to this report from Baghdad.