Roadside Bomb Kills 4 Soldiers in Baghdad

BAGHDAD -- The U.S. military on Sunday announced the deaths of six more soldiers in Iraq, including four killed by a roadside bomb while they were patrolling western Baghdad.

A U.S. official, meanwhile, blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for chlorine bomb attacks that struck villagers in Anbar province earlier this week but said tight Iraqi security measures prevented a high number of deaths.

Three suicide bombers driving trucks rigged with tanks of toxic chlorine gas struck targets in the insurgent stronghold, including the office of a Sunni tribal leader opposed to al-Qaida. The attacks killed at least two people and sickened 350 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. troops, the U.S. military said Saturday.

U.S. military spokesman Mark Fox said at least one of the attackers detonated his explosives after he was unable to get past an Iraqi police checkpoint in Amiriyah, just south of Fallujah, killing only himself and injuring seven others, although he said dozens of other people suffered from exposure to the chlorine gas.

"Some of these chlorine bombs that were used in Anbar actually never got close to the checkpoint," he said at a news conference in Baghdad.

"Steps taken by Iraqi security forces to protect the people are ­working," he said. "Insurgent attempts to create high-profile carnage are being stopped at checkpoints across the country."

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh called the attacks immoral, saying they hurt children, and he appealed to Iraqis to help stop the violence.

"Opportunity is still available to all honest Iraqis to rescue this country from the criminals," he said at a joint news conference with Fox. "The chlorine attack was a kind of punishment against the people who stood against terrorist organizations."

There is a growing power struggle between insurgents and the increasing number of Sunnis who oppose them in Anbar, the center of the Sunni insurgency, which stretches from Baghdad to the borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The Anbar assaults came three days after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, traveled there to reach out to Sunni clan chiefs in a bid to undermine tribal support for the insurgency.

After the explosion that killed four U.S. soldiers Saturday, the unit came under fire and another soldier was wounded.

An explosion in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad killed another U.S. soldier Saturday and injured five. A sixth U.S. soldier died Saturday in a non-combat related incident, the military said.