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U.S. military: Suicide bombers kill 9 U.S. soldiers in Iraq

Story Highlights

• Dual suicide car bombers also wound 20 U.S. soldiers
• Iraqi protesters say security walls promote sectarian divide
• Walls are temporary security enhancements, U.S. military says
• Suicide car bomber near Mosul targets Kurdish political office
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two suicide car bombers struck a small U.S. patrol base in Diyala province Monday, killing nine American soldiers and wounding 20 others, according to a U.S. military official in Diyala.

All of the casualties were members of the Army's 82nd Airborne, based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the U.S. military said in a statement

"Today represents the single greatest loss of life for soldiers from Fort Bragg in more than five years of simultaneous deployment," media affairs officer Maj. Tom Earnhardt told CNN.

In a 1994 training accident, 23 base personnel died in a crash at neighboring Pope Air Force Base.

Earlier, in a separate incident, the military said a U.S. soldier was killed in Muqtadya, northeast of Baghdad, by a roadside bomb.

Muqtadya is a city in Diyala province located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of the provincial capital of Baquba.

Also Monday, a suicide car bomber targeted a gathering of police vehicles in Baquba, killing six police officers, including a police general, a Diyala province police official said.

Dozens killed in insurgent attacks

Insurgents targeted Iraqis eating at restaurants, police patrolling the cities, a Kurdish political office and a Sunni mosque in a string of attacks in Iraq on Monday that left at least 51 people dead and 96 wounded, according to Iraqi officials. (Watch scenes of destruction from Baghdad bombs )

The deadliest attack happened when a suicide car bomber struck a restaurant in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, killing 20 civilians and wounding 35, an Interior Ministry official said.

A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint just outside Ramadi, killing four and wounding six civilians and police, a police official said.

In Baghdad, seven people were killed and 16 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest inside a restaurant near the Green Zone, Baghdad police said.

The restaurant was frequented by Baghdad police officers.

About a half-mile away from the restaurant, two parked car bombs exploded near Iran's embassy within hours of each other, police said.

Insurgents also bombed a Sunni mosque in the southwestern Baghdad neighborhood of Baya'a. They killed the mosque's guard to gain entry then rigged the mosque with explosives. No one was injured but the al-Kawthar mosque was damaged, an Interior Ministry official said.

A suicide car bomb detonated outside the Kurdish Democratic Party office in Tal Uskuf, killing at least 10 people and wounding 20, according to KDP official Abdul Ghani Yahya.

Iraqis protest security wall

Despite the daily attacks across Iraq, thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to protest a concrete wall surrounding Adhamiya, a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad.

The U.S. and Iraqi militaries say the wall is a temporary structure to prevent insurgent attacks.

But many Baghdad residents fear walls will exacerbate the sectarian divide that is fueling the insurgency in the Iraqi capital. (Watch why the wall was controversial )

"The aim of this wall is to isolate Adhamiya," one resident told CNN. "It's a step we think that is not for the good of the people, but it's to isolate them like Falluja and other Sunni cities."

Police estimated 7,000 Iraqis peacefully took to the street to voice their disapproval with the wall around Adhamiya, a Sunni enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods.

Video showed the streets crowded with demonstrators, some carrying banners that read in English, "No to the sectarian barrier."

While it is a known insurgent stronghold, Adhamiya has also been the target of Shiite death squads.

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki expressed outrage, saying "the construction will stop."

In response, the U.S. military issued a statement Monday saying "the construction of the wall is under review" and vowing to "coordinate with the Iraq government to establish effective appropriate security measures."

But at a joint news conference later Monday, spokesmen for the U.S. and Iraqi militaries said there are no plans to stop erecting the security barriers, which they stressed are temporary.

The spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta said al-Maliki was responding to "groundless" media reports that a permanent wall -- 40 feet (12 meters) high and 3 miles (5 kilometers) long -- is being constructed.

"The prime minister is in agreement with the work of the security forces and the issue of security barriers," Atta said at the news conference in Baghdad. "We will continue to set up these barriers in Adhamiya and other areas."

A combination of sand barriers, trenches, barbed wire and concrete barriers will be put in place temporarily to secure certain areas within the 10 Baghdad security districts, Atta said. They will be moved after each area is secure, he said.

"We have noticed a big drop in terrorist attacks in areas where we already set up these security barriers," he said.

The U.S. and Iraqi militaries have started setting up security barriers in Baladiyat, Zafaraniya, al-Shu'la, Baya'a, Adhamiya, and the outskirts of Sadr City, Atta said.

"It's a fluid situation and none of these barriers that we're erecting are permanent," U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Mark Fox said during Monday's news conference. "We will be able to employ them as necessary."

At a news conference in Cairo on Sunday, al-Maliki said that his previous comments expressed his "fear (that) this wall might have repercussions, which remind us of other walls we reject."

He was apparently referring to the wall Israel constructed in the West Bank, and to the wall that divided Berlin during the Cold War.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Arwa Damon contributed to this report.


A U.S. soldier takes photographs where a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a restaurant in Baghdad on Monday.

SPECIAL REPORT

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

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