Five US marines have been killed near Ramadi, western Iraq, when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb, the US military said in a statement yesterday.
The military statement gave no more details of the attack which took place on Wednesday evening.
But it confirmed it was the second time in a week that resistance fighters had inflicted such a high death toll on marines in the same area in a single blast.
The US military has strengthened the armour on all its vehicles, at considerable cost in both equipment and in added fuel bills for the heavier loads.
But US officers have said some insurgents have been using ‘shaped charges’, which concentrate blasts onto a small area allowing them to penetrate the most heavily armoured tanks.
Meanwhile, in another attack yesterday, five Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a car bomb in Baghdad.
‘The five soldiers have been taken to a Baghdad hospital,’ a puppet Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.
He added that the attack had taken place at around 8.30am (0430 GMT) on a police station in the northern Sulaikh district.
Meanwhile, a US senator has caused a storm with his comments on the conduct of US soldiers at Guantanamo Bay.
US Senator Dick Durbin has refused to apologise for comparing the actions of US soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to those of Hitler’s Nazis or Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
On Wednesday he refused to apologise for comments he made on the Senate floor on Tuesday, referring to Nazis, Soviet gulags and a ‘mad regime’ like Pol Pot.
Illinois Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna had demanded he apologise, claiming US soldiers ‘spread democracy around the world’.
Durbin did not plan to apologise for the comments, his spokesman Joe Shoemaker said.
On the contrary, Durbin issued a statement saying: ‘This administration should apologise to the American people for abandoning the Geneva Conventions and authorising torture techniques that put our troops at risk and make Americans less secure.’
During his speech on Tuesday, Durbin, the Senate’s second most senior Democrat, quoted from an FBI agent’s report describing detainees in the prison camp at the US naval base in Cuba as being chained to the floor without food or water in extreme temperatures.
He said: ‘If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime – Pol Pot or others – that had no concern for human beings.
Human-rights groups have long accused the administration of unjustly detaining suspects at the prison camp. Amnesty International last month called the detention centre the ‘gulag of our times’.
Senator Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has said the prison camp has become an ‘international embarrassment’ and should be closed down.
He said: ‘Guantanamo is an international embarrassment to our nation, to our ideals and it remains a festering threat to our security.’
About 520 detainees from about 40 countries remain at Guantanamo.