BAGHDAD, Iraq—Roadside bombs killed more U.S. troops in Iraq during October than in any previous month of the war, continuing a trend that's made the homemade explosives the primary threat to American forces in Iraq.
Six U.S. soldiers died from such bombs Monday, the last day of the month, bringing to 55 the number of American troops who died from the explosives in October. A roadside bomb also killed a Marine on Sunday, the military said Monday.
In all, 93 U.S. military personnel died in Iraq during the month, making it the deadliest month since January and the fourth deadliest month of the war. Of those, 75 were killed by hostile fire.
The roadside bombs, known in military parlance as improvised explosive devices, commonly are laid along roads that American military convoys frequent. They generally consist of artillery shells, which military intelligence experts say can be had for as little as $15 in Iraq these days, and detonators.
The U.S. military has spent millions of dollars on efforts to develop measures to counter the bombs, but insurgents have responded by building bigger and more effective explosives.
On patrol, soldiers are told to scan the roadside for suspicious debris, as the bombs often are encased in concrete to make them appear to be broken sections of road or curb, or even placed in old boxes, bags or barrels.
They're most commonly detonated remotely, sometimes by modified television remotes, but more often by cell phones hooked to detonators.
According to military news releases, four of the soldiers who died Monday were patrolling southwest Baghdad when they were killed. The other two were on patrol north of the town of Balaad, which is just north of Baghdad. The Marine was described as taking part in combat operations near Amiriyah, in Anbar province.
No further details of the attacks were released Monday. All seven names are being withheld pending notification of relatives.
The number of roadside-bomb attacks has been climbing steadily this year, with at least 30 deaths a month since May. The death rate in October is 15 more than the next highest month, August, and more than double the average number of roadside-bomb deaths during the war.
Overall, the monthly death toll was the highest since January, when 107 U.S. military personnel died, 54 of them from hostile fire.
The total number of U.S. deaths in Iraq stands at 2,026, of which 1,584 died from hostile fire.
(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
GRAPHIC (from KRT Graphics, 202-383-6064): 20051031 USIRAQ deaths