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TAL AFAR, Iraq — One U.S. soldier and two Iraqi army soldiers were injured and several Iraqi civilians killed Thursday when a bomb exploded beside an American vehicle, according to officials from the 1st Brigade of the 1st Armored Division.

The incident occurred around noon in the city’s northwest district — an area that is populated mostly by Sunni Turkomen and has seen a surge in attacks in recent weeks.

Commanders were still investigating the incident and sorting through events leading up to the explosion Thursday evening and had yet to release a final, confirmed account of the attack.

However, initial, unconfirmed reports held that an elderly woman had placed a box beside a U.S. vehicle and began walking away when the container exploded. It was unclear how many civilians were killed in the attack, but the bomber was reportedly among them.

Col. Sean MacFarland, commander of the Friedberg, Germany-based “Ready First” Brigade said it remained unclear whether the bomber intended to die in the blast. It was also unclear whether the bomber was actually an elderly woman or a man disguised to look like an elderly woman.

While suicide bombings are a common tactic used by insurgents in Iraq, they are less commonly committed by women. Suicide attacks committed by elderly women are almost unheard of.

In Tal Afar, 1st AD troops have relied heavily on foot patrols. In some areas of the city, soldiers trudge through narrow, winding alleyways and boulevards around the clock, conducting frequent, random searches of homes.

The city was the site of a pitched battle between the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and insurgents, who had virtually commandeered and terrorized the town.

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