NBC News and news services
updated 1/9/2008 3:39:11 PM ET 2008-01-09T20:39:11

Six American soldiers were killed and four wounded in a house rigged with explosives during an operation in Baqouba, the U.S. military told NBC News on Wednesday.

The soldiers were clearing the house when a huge blast killed the six — the largest single loss of life for U.S. troops in the Iraq war so far this year. It's not clear whether the house was booby-trapped or the explosives were remotely detonated.

The identities of those killed and their unit were being withheld pending notification of their families.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have launched a major operation against al-Qaida in Iraq in Diyala province, where Baqouba is situated, north of Baghdad, the military said.

Earlier Wednesday, the military reported the deaths of three other soldiers the day before in northern Salahuddin province, another target area of the new offensive against al-Qaida that was launched on Tuesday.

Since Jan. 1, 15 U.S. service members have been killed by hostile action in Iraq.

NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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