Updated at 11:45 p.m. EST, Dec. 20, 2006
New U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made an unannounced trip to Iraq where he discussed with local military commanders the possibility of increasing the number of troops there. Meanwhile, President Bush talked about the need to increase the permanent size of the military during a news conference this morning. As the troop situation was being discussed three American servicemembers were killed and six were wounded in separate attacks. Also, 132 Iraqis were killed or found dead today, and another 64 were injured.
Southwest of Baghdad, an American servicemember was killed and four others injured when a roadside bomb blasted them. In a second incident, this time in southern Baghdad, another roadside bomb killed an American soldier and wounded two others. Also, the Dept. of Defense reported that a Marine was killed yesterday in Anbar province. These events bring the number of deaths to 66 American servicemembers killed in Iraq during December.
In Baghdad, a car bomber drove his cargo into a police checkpoint near Baghdad University; 11 people were killed and 31 injured, including students. Another car bomb killed five and wounded 11 in an Adhamiya district Interior Ministry office. Four more people were wounded by separate car bombs in the Bayaa and Camp Sara districts. Several other explosions occurred, but no casualties were reported.
Also in the capital, gunmen killed Professor Muntathar Mohammed Mehdi, his brother and his cousin; he was a member of al Sadr’s political movement. A teacher was gunned down today; his brother was a famous actor who was found dead yesterday. And six Sunnis were kidnapped at a fake checkpoint just south of Baghdad. And 76 unidentified bodies were dumped in different sections of the capital.
Gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Khalis; one Iraqi solder and five gunmen were killed, another three Iraqi soldiers were wounded.
In Baiji, a roadside bomb killed two motorists and wounded three others.
Two bodies bearing gunshot and torture wounds were found in Mahmudiya.
A policeman was killed in Amara.
Two roadside bombs were dismantled in Balad Ruz before they could harm anyone.
In Shakori village, gunmen killed two civilians and wounded eight others.
Also, one woman was killed and three people, including a 12-year old, were injured when gunmen used rockets in an attack on a police station in Ramadi.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis