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Suicide bomber kills 20 in Iraq, 7 U.S. soldiers die

Reuters | May 23, 2007 
Paul Tait

Twenty people were killed by a suicide bomber in a crowded cafe northeast of Baghdad on Wednesday, while the U.S. military reported the deaths of seven more soldiers.

Iraqi police also said they had found the body of one of three U.S. soldiers who have been missing since an attack on their patrol south of Baghdad on May 12.

The bomber was wearing a suicide vest when he walked into the cafe in Mandali, a mainly Shi'ite Kurd town about 100 km (60 miles) northeast of Baghdad near the Iranian border, and blew himself up.

Mandali Mayor Abdul Hussein al-Qaralusy put the death toll at 11, with 24 wounded.

Mandali is in the volatile Diyala province, a large, religiously mixed area which has seen some of the worst violence since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The U.S. military said seven soldiers were killed in four separate roadside bomb and shooting attacks on Tuesday, most of them in or around the capital. The military had already reported the deaths of two Marines in Anbar on Tuesday.

The latest reported deaths mean a total of nine soldiers were killed on Tuesday, one of the highest daily tolls suffered by U.S. troops in Iraq. Eighty soldiers have now been killed since the beginning of the month and 3,431 since the U.S. invasion.

South of Baghdad, police said the half-naked, tortured body of one of three U.S. soldiers missing since an ambush on their patrol on May 12 had been found in the Euphrates River.

The U.S. military said it could not immediately confirm whether the body was that of one of the missing soldiers.

"We will go through the identification process to determine whether this is one of our personnel or not," U.S. military spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Josslyn Aberle said.

Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have been scouring farmland for the missing troops in an area south of Baghdad known as the "Triangle of Death" since the May 12 ambush in which four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi translator were killed.

Hilla police spokesman Captain Muthanna al-Maamouri said there were bullet wounds to the torso and head of the body, which was wearing U.S. Army-issue pants and boots and had a tattoo on the left arm.

The al Qaeda-led Islamic State in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the attack near Mahmudiya but has offered no proof that it has the three missing soldiers.

U.S. military officials have said they believe at least two of the soldiers were still alive.

(Additional reporting by Ross Colvin and Aseel Kami in Baghdad)

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