BAGHDAD - Two Iraqi policemen fired on four U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi interpreters inside a police station in the northern city of Mosul yesterday, the third deadly attack on American soldiers in two weeks in the still-volatile provinces of Nineveh and Diyala.
One American soldier and one of the interpreters were killed, the U.S. military said. The three other soldiers and second interpreter were injured. An Iraqi police captain at the scene was also slightly injured, said police officials.
The assailants escaped.
The assault highlighted how large patches of northern and central Iraq remain violent, even as security has improved in Baghdad and other areas. Sunni insurgents remain entrenched in Nineveh, especially the provincial capital, Mosul, and in Diyala, 40 miles north of Baghdad.
Yesterday's attack came a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reopened Iraq's National Museum, declaring it a symbol of the nation's stability and progress. Hours later, a roadside bomb killed three American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter during combat operations in Diyala.
Two weeks ago, a suicide car bomber killed four U.S. soldiers and their Iraqi interpreters in Mosul, the deadliest assault against American troops in nine months. Despite major U.S. and Iraqi military offensives over the past year, Mosul remains a stubborn stronghold of the Sunni insurgency, especially the al-Qaida in Iraq group.
Yesterday's assault took place in daylight. About 2 p.m., the American soldiers were inside the headquarters of a brigade that protects bridges in the western section of the city, said Brig. Gen. Saeed al-Jubouri, a spokesman for the Nineveh provincial police. Two policemen opened fire, killing one of the Iraqi interpreters instantly, he said.
The attack appeared well planned. After firing their weapons, the policemen ran outside the station and up the stairs of a nearby bridge. "They got into a car that was waiting for them and escaped," al-Jubouri said.
And when police forces went to the assailants' homes, their families had also fled, police officials said.
"Al-Qaida has infiltrated the police forces in Mosul," said a Ministry of Interior official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. The ministry oversees the police.