BAGHDAD — Five U.S. soldiers died Monday when at least three rockets hit a joint compound for U.S. and Iraqi security forces in eastern Baghdad, the highest death toll for American forces on a single day in more than two years.
In the latest burst of violence in Iraq, at least 16 Iraqis also were killed in Baghdad and in the city of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, north of the capital.
The U.S. troops who died Monday were stationed at Camp Loyalty in east Baghdad, a site that used to be headquarters for Iraq's General Directorate of Intelligence during Saddam's regime.
A witness who lives in a high-rise close by the camp said he saw at least three rockets hit the compound. Iraqi police said the rockets had been launched from a car on Al Qanat Street in a mostly Shiite Muslim neighborhood in southern Baghdad. They said the car later was seen on fire.
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Attacks on American troops have risen dramatically in recent months. Monday's deaths brought to 18 the number of Americans killed by hostile fire so far this year, nearly as many as the 22 who died from enemy fire in all of last year, according to the iCasualties website, which tracks casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That pace is still far below the rate of 2007, when 767 Americans were killed in combat, the peak year for U.S. fatalities in Iraq, or 2009, when 75 American troops died as a result of enemy fire.
The last time so many U.S. soldiers died from hostile fire in a single day in Iraq was April 10, 2009, when five were killed when a suicide truck bomb exploded in Mosul, in Ninevah province , according to iCasualties.
Monday's attack added to questions about Iraqi security forces' ability to control the unstable situation just months before the planned American withdrawal, which is set for Dec. 31 under the two countries' security agreement. There are about 47,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.