Baghdad : Three Iraqi soldiers threw themselves on a suicide attacker wearing an explosives vest at an Army Day celebration Sunday, and the U.S. military said their heroism likely prevented the death toll from rising much higher. Iraqi police said at least 11 people were killed in the blast, the deadliest in a series of bombings to hit Baghdad, according to AP.
Shortly before the attacker struck, about two dozen Iraqi soldiers were standing outside the offices of a local non-governmental agency pushing for unity in Iraq. The troops, their AK-47 machine guns raised in the air, were chanting pro-army slogans and a common anti-insurgent
taunt: Where are the terrorists today? One soldier posed for a photograph with a flower _ given to him by a civilian _ in the muzzle of his gun.
The blast tore through the crowd, littering the narrow street with bodies, weapons and shoes. Dazed soldiers and police carried their bloodied colleagues to nearby pickup trucks that whisked them to a hospital.
Among the dead were four police officers, three Iraqisoldiers and four civilians, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. At least 17 people were injured. A U.S. military statement said five people were killed,
and the discrepancy could not be explained immediately.
These martyrs gave their lives so that others might live, said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a U.S. military spokesman.
In the north in the Iraqi city of Mosul, meanwhile, three apparently coordinated explosions targeted two Christian churches and a convent, local officials and the U.S. military said. There were no deaths, but four people were wounded.