by Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Violence in Baghdad and central Iraq killed 20 Iraqis and wounded 40 others while the U.S. military announced the death of five of its soldiers on Monday, several months before the proposed departure of all U.S. troops from the country.
Monday was one of the deadliest days for the U.S. soldiers in Iraq as the U.S. military announced in a statement the killing of five of its soldiers in central Iraq, without giving further details about how or where exactly they were killed.
However, an Iraqi security source told reporters that at least three Katyusha rockets were fired at dawn against a joint Iraqi-U. S. military base in Baladiyat district, eastern Baghdad, without reports about casualties.
The base is a former site of internal security directorate under Saddam Hussein's regime. Its location is close to Baghdad's Shiite bastion of Sadr City district, the main stronghold of Mahdi Army militia, loyal to radical Shiite cleric of Moqtada al-Sadr.
The U.S. military did not confirm the rocket barrage on its base in Baladiyat yet.
The death toll of U.S. soldiers, who have been killed in Iraq since the war broke out in 2003, rose to about 4,459, according to media count based on Pentagon figures.
U.S. troops in Iraq had been reduced to below 47,000 soldiers until the end of April. Washington said that the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq are conducting support and training missions.
U.S. military forces are to pull out completely from Iraq by the end of 2011, according to the security pact named Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which was signed late in 2008 between Baghdad and Washington.
Also in the day, violence hit Tikrit, the capital city of the predominantly Sunni Arab province of Salahudin, when a suicide car bomber struck in the morning Iraqi security forces at a checkpoint at the entrance of the presidential compound of the former president Saddam Hussien.
The powerful blast killed nine soldiers and two policemen, along with wounding 19 people, most of them were security members, according to a source from Salahudin's Operations Command, who spoke to Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Colonel Nuri al-Mashhadani, commander of the First Brigade of the Iraqi Army's Fourth Division, stationed in Tikrit, was among the killed by the blast in the city that located some 170 km north of Baghdad, the source said.
Monday's violence in Tikrit came three days after deadly bomb attacks at the city's mosque and hospital that claimed the lives of 36 people and wounded dozens others.
The massive attacks in Tikrit pushed Brigadier General Jassim Hussein Jbara to resign from his position as head of the provincial national security directorate for the insufficiency by the provincial government in dealing with the frequent security breaches.
"I don't want to be part of fragile security situation in Salahudin province," Jbara said.
"There is no seriousness in dealing with the repeated security breaches occurred in the province," he said.
Salahudin province is mainly Sunni province, its capital city of Tikrit is the hometown of Saddam Hussein.
In Iraq's western Anbar province, insurgents blew up bombs planted around the house of a local police chief in al-Hamdhiyah area in northeastern the provincial capital city of Ramadi, some 110 km west of Baghdad, killing four of his family members and wounded another, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
In Baghdad, a spate of attacks by gunmen using silenced weapons against checkpoints manned by Awakening Council group members and Iraqi army soldiers in Adhamiyah district in northern the capital resulted in the killing of three group members and one soldier and the wounding of four others, an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.
The Awakening Council group, or al-Sahwa in Arabic, consists of paramilitary groups, including some powerful anti-U.S. Sunni insurgent groups, who turned their rifles against the al-Qaida network after the latter exercised indiscriminate killings against both Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.
In a separate incident, a roadside bomb went off near a police patrol in al-Kasrah area in Adhamiyah district, wounding six people, including three policemen, the source said.
Also in the capital, a car bomb ripped through Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad in the afternoon, killing a civilian and wounding 10 others, the source added.
Monday's attacks underscore the challenges that the Iraqi security forces are facing as they struggle to restore stability and normalcy in Iraqi cities about eight months before the departure of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011.
Special Report: Situation in Iraq