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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Errant Bullets Detonate Fuel Truck

MOSUL, Iraq -- Police trying to stop a militant driving a fuel truck toward a Mosul police station on Thursday inadvertently blew up the truck themselves, after stray shots set off the explosives, killing the driver in the process.

Also on Thursday, rebels fired mortars and fought gun battles with police across the city in violence that killed 20 people.

Mosul's police Colonel Khalaf Ismail said Thursday's bomber was trying to slam the fuel tanker he was driving into the police station when he was shot dead by a policeman, igniting the fuel in his vehicle, which in turn caused the massive explosion.

The station commander, Colonel Abed Hamed al-Jibouri, said the massive blast caused damage to the police station and destroyed as many as 42 cars waiting to buy gasoline at the nearby gas station.

At least two policemen were among those killed in the attack, Jibouri said.

Lines outside gas stations are routine in Iraq because of persistent fuel shortages.

Five minutes later, a second roadside bomb went off at the same spot, targeting police and rescuers who arrived at the scene, said police Lieutenant Maytham Abdul-Razzaq. Two policemen were killed and two others were wounded in the second blast.

Dora's Balatt al-Shuhada police station came under attack at 11:00 a.m. local time. Four policemen were killed in a gun battle with the assailants, which ended when U.S. troops came to the rescue, forcing the assailants to flee.

Another U.S. soldier was killed in combat, the U.S. military said, a day after it announced the deaths of 11 U.S. soldiers in one of the bloodiest days of the war for U.S. troops.

At least 71 U.S. troops have been killed so far in October, putting the month on track to become one of the deadliest for U.S. forces since a massive offensive in Fallujah two years ago.

The rise, ahead of key U.S. congressional elections next month in which plummeting support for the war has become a major issue, has been blamed on more aggressive patrols in Baghdad, where U.S. troops have conducted raids to stamp out militias.

The blast in Mosul, a flash point of Sunni Arab insurgents north of Baghdad, killed 11 people and wounded 26. Nine charred bodies lay on the debris-strewn streets.

Shortly after the explosion, insurgents fired mortar shells at another police center and clashed with police. Nine more people were killed in the violence.

At least 2,784 troops have died in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Many more Iraqis have been killed and more than 300,000 have fled their homes in an internal exodus some fear is consolidating a sectarian partition of Iraq.

n Eight soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st division will be court-martialed for murdering Iraqi civilians, including two who face the death penalty for allegedly raping an Iraqi girl and killing her and her family, the military ordered Wednesday.

Military authorities said they would seek the death penalty against Sergeant Paul Cortez and Private First Class Jesse Spielman in connection with the March rape and murder Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family's home in Mahmoudiya, about 32 kilometers south of Baghdad. She was 14. The four others face a separate court martial for the alleged murder of three men near Samarra, 96 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital.

(Reuters, AP)