A militant group tied to Al Qaeda claimed Sunday to be holding three American soldiers missing since an ambush that left four U.S. troops and an Iraqi interpreter dead. Across Iraq, bombs, mortar shells and gunfire killed more than 50 people Sunday, including 16 in a market that has been a frequent target of bombings and other attacks. The statement from the Islamic State of Iraq came as thousands of U.S. and Iraqi security forces combed the "triangle of death," an area southwest of Baghdad that is a stronghold of Sunni Muslim insurgents. Three U.S. soldiers disappeared after the Saturday morning ambush 12 miles west of Mahmoudiya. The military did not identify the U.S. troops, and did not reveal their combat unit, but some new details of the incident emerged.At least one victim suffered gunshot wounds, though it was unclear whether he was shot before or after blasts enveloped the soldiers' two vehicles in flames, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman.An Army Quick Reaction Force, deployed about 15 minutes after the 4:44 a.m. attack, had to avoid a roadside bomb in its path as it headed toward the scene in the darkness, Garver said.The force arrived about 40 minutes later, he said. "This is not like responding to a two-alarm fire on Sunset Boulevard. They can't just drive up. You have to be wary along the way. "There was no way to verify the militant group's claim, which appeared on its website. Islamic State of Iraq, a coalition of Sunni groups loyal to Al Qaeda, offered no photographic evidence to back it up.
Looks like George W. Bush's "surge" ain't working!