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SEOUL — Three more 2nd Infantry Division soldiers were killed in Iraq over the weekend, bringing the total number of Strike Force deaths to 56, according to a Stars and Stripes tally.

The soldiers were clearing mines in Ramadi, about 60 miles west of Baghdad, when a vehicle heading toward them exploded, according to the Pentagon. Seven other soldiers were injured in the same incident.

Killed were: Sgt. Angelo L. Lozada Jr., 36, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Sgt. Tromaine K. Toy Sr., 24, of Eastville, Va.; and Spc. Randy L. Stevens, 21, of Swartz Creek, Mich.

All three were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Hovey, South Korea.

“These three soldiers were operating out of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, doing a mine-clearing operation, when a vehicle heading towards them detonated,” Capt. Greg Heilshorn, a New Hampshire National Guard spokesman, told Newsday.

Lozada joined the New Hampshire National Guard in 1994 and joined the Army in 2000. He served in South Korea for about two years before being sent to Iraq about a year ago, his family told Newsday.

Stevens already had earned a Purple Heart in Iraq and recently re-enlisted for another six years, the Detroit Free Press reported. He was planning to be an Army recruiter after serving his last 90 days in Iraq.

He earned his Purple Heart after his Humvee was struck by an explosive on Nov. 2 and he shielded his companion despite being wounded in the head.

At least 1,558 servicemembers have died since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, according the Associated Press tally that was updated Tuesday morning.

The 3,500 soldiers with Strike Force were deployed last summer; they’re expected to move to Fort Carson, Colo., when their Iraq tour ends.


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