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Four US soldiers slain in Iraq bombing, senior police officer killed in Basra


BAGHDAD, NOV 8 (AP): A suicide bomber blew up his vehicle at a checkpoint south of Baghdad and killed four American soldiers, the military said. The US command also announced five soldiers from an elite unit were charged with kicking and punching Iraqi detainees.
The suicide attack Monday came as US and Iraqi troops battled al-Qaida-led militants for a third day in Husaybah, a town on the Syrian border that the military describes as a major entry point for foreign fighters. One Marine has died there, the US command said Monday.
Al-Qaida in Iraq warned the Iraqi government to halt the offensive in Husaybah within 24 hours or see "the earth ... shake beneath their feet."
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced a troop rotation for Iraq that will number at least 92,000 soldiers through 2008, although officials said it likely will be considerably larger.
The four soldiers who died in the suicide attack were assigned to the Army's Task Force Baghdad, the US command said, offering no further details. Earlier Monday, the military said a US soldier died Sunday in a roadside bombing near Tikrit.
The deaths brought to at least 2,051 the number of US military personnel who have died since the Iraq war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 24 have died this month - most in roadside bombings.
The US military said five soldiers from the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment were charged Saturday with assault, maltreatment and dereliction of duty during a Sept. 7 incident "in which three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked while awaiting movement to a detention facility." All five were reassigned to administrative duties, the statement said.
The Army said the alleged incident occurred in Baghdad and that the detainees, all men, suffered bruises "caused by striking with a closed and open hand, kicking, and hitting with an object described as a broomstick."
A Marine statement said three insurgents disguised as women tried to enter a camp for displaced civilians in Husaybah Monday but were killed by Iraqi guards who spotted their weapons. The statement also said Marines found the booby-trapped body of an insurgent in a school.
In Basra, a senior police officer was killed when a roadside bomb struck his convoy Tuesday in this southern city, police said. One other policeman was killed in the attack and four were injured.
Col. Mahmoud Qassim was head of the criminal investigation unit in the city, Iraq's second largest.
He was killed when the blast occurred in the city's Abu al-Khasib area, 15 kilometres (9 miles) south of Basra, police spokesman Col. Karim al-Zeidi said.