Building collapse led to Baqouba casualties
Many of the casualties in Monday’s twin truck bomb attack on a U.S. combat outpost in Baqouba came when the second floor of the building collapsed after the blast, military officials said early Wednesday.
Nine soldiers were killed and 20 other troops were wounded in the attack in As Sadah.
The attack began with small-arms fire, quickly followed by the approach of two trucks laden with explosives, military officials said Wednesday. One of the trucks detonated around 30 meters from the patrol base, while the other hit the outer wall and detonated.
“The explosive blast from the second truck ruptured the wall of the patrol base building, collapsing the second floor and causing the majority of the soldier casualties,” the military said in a statement.
In the immediate area around the base, one house and several smaller structures also collapsed; a hospital and mosque some 200 meters from the patrol base were also damaged, officials said.
The patrol base had been in use by the U.S. troops since March, officials said.
A group called the Islamic State of Iraq later claimed responsibility for the attack. It is the same group that said it carried out the April 12 suicide bombing in the cafeteria of the Iraqi parliament building in Baghdad.
Such Internet claims are common after large-scale attacks in Iraq, though they are often impossible to verify.
On Wednesday, U.S. military officials said the As Sadah attack “has only strengthened our resolve and has emboldened the people’s support of the security forces,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas, commander of the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
The deaths were the single worst combat loss for the 82nd Airborne since Vietnam, division officials said.
“My thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the brave soldiers who were killed and wounded during this vicious attack,” said Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and commander of forces in Diyala province.
On Tuesday, Sutherland met with the governor, deputy governor, provincial council chairman and director of police to discuss the attack.
“I reaffirmed to them that the coalition forces inside Diyala will remain on the offense to deny the enemy any safe havens,” Sutherland was quoted as saying.