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Minnesota soldier among 10 killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Ten U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in four incidents Wednesday, while bombs, mortar attacks and bullets killed at least 71 Iraqis.

U.S. military fatalities had reached 2,919 as of Wednesday night, said icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks military deaths in Iraq. That total includes the announcement Wednesday of a U.S. soldier stationed in Baghdad who was killed during combat on Sunday.

About 50,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the same period, according to Iraq Body Count, an independent group that bases its tally on media reports.

U.S. military officials released few details about Wednesday's military fatalities. U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver attributed the high number of fatalities to "a confluence of unfortunate events."

"It's unusual, but it's not linked to anything specific," Garver said. "Losing even one soldier is too many."

The U.S. deaths marked the highest single-day total since Oct. 17, when 11 U.S. servicemen were killed. So far, 29 U.S. troops have died in December, compared with 70 in November.

The Minnesota National Guard announced its latest casualty in Iraq was Spc. Nicholas Turcotte, 23, of Maple Grove.

He was in an armored vehicle escorting a logistics convoy with soldiers from the West St. Paul-based Company A, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry when it rolled over on a road near Nasiriyah on Monday, the Guard announced late Tuesday.

The accident was not the result of enemy action and the cause remained under investigation. No other Minnesota National Guard soldiers were hurt in the accident, the Guard said.

Turcotte's death raised the number of people with strong Minnesota ties who have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to 48.

In Baghdad, Iraqi police reported the discovery of 45 bullet-riddled corpses.

At least 15 Iraqis were killed and 25 wounded by a bomb that exploded near a Defense Ministry building in central Baghdad, according to U.S. military officials.

Three people were killed and a dozen injured when a man detonated an explosive vest inside a minibus in Sadr City, a densely populated Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.