5 U.S. deaths in Iraq truck bombing are worst toll in a year

BAGHDAD — Five U.S. soldiers died in Iraq on Friday when a suicide attacker slammed a truck packed with explosives into a national police office in the northern city of Mosul. It is the single deadliest incident to befall American troops here in more than a year.

Two more soldiers were injured in the attack and two Iraqi National Police officers died, the U.S. military said. Iraqi police said three officers were killed and that scores more were injured.

The bomber's truck was carrying more than 200 pounds of explosives when it struck a barrier meant to protect Iraq’s National Police headquarters in the Mansour area of southwestern Mosul, police there said.

Two people suspected of involvement in the attack have been arrested, U.S. military officials said, though they declined to provide further details, including the suspects’ nationalities.

Friday's bombing is the single deadliest assault on Americans since last March, when five U.S. soldiers patrolling on foot died in a suicide attack in Baghdad.

Overall, U.S. troop deaths have declined dramatically across Iraq in the past year or so. In all nine Americans died in Iraq last month, and 4,271 have died since the U.S. invaded in March 2003.

But death tolls among locals have been creeping up in recent weeks, especially in Baghdad.

On Monday a series of seven explosions killed dozens in the capital. Back-to-back bombings Tuesday and Wednesday in Baghdad's Kadhemiyah district killed at least 15. Thursday marked the sixth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government to U.S. forces.

Mosul, Iraq's third largest city, has continued to be one of the deadliest for U.S. troops. Four soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter died there in February in a suicide bombing at a checkpoint. Overall, violence has remained higher in Mosul than in most other Iraqi cities.

Nineveh province, where Mosul is located, has been especially tense lately, as Kurds and Arabs vie for control over land there. American officials are worried the disagreements may explode into large-scale violence.

President Barack Obama, who this week made his first visit to Iraq since taking office, has pledged to pull most American troops from Iraq by the end of next summer. In Baghdad on Tuesday he said the recent uptick in violence here hasn't changed those plans.

The military declined to release the names of the Americans who died in Friday's attack because their families have yet to be informed.