Twenty-three Marines have been killed in a week in the Iraqi War.

Most military analysts say the country is becoming more unstable and more dangerous than ever.

Fourteen U.S. Marines were killed yesterday when a huge bomb destroyed their lightly armored vehicle, hurling it into the air in a giant fireball in the deadliest roadside bombing suffered by American forces in the Iraq war.

A civilian translator also was killed and one Marine was wounded.

The victims were from the same Ohio-based Reserve unit as five of six members of a Marine sniper team killed on Monday in an ambush.

In all, 44 American service members have died in Iraq since July 24 all but two in combat.

The heavy loss of life cast new attention on a longtime Marine complaint the lack of protection provided by their armored amphibious vehicles.

The Marines killed Wednesday were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines based in Brook Park, a Cleveland suburb, and attached to the Regimental Combat Team-2. Nine of them were from a single smaller unit in Columbus.

U.S. officials have long complained that American forces seize Sunni areas only to have Iraqi authorities lose them again to the insurgents once American troops leave.

Despite those complaints, the Bush administration is talking about handing more security responsibility to the Iraqis and drawing down forces next year.

At least 1,821 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.

Wounded in the conflict, estimates vary from 15,000 to 42,000.

Civilian deaths are estimated at not less than 25,000, although many reports say there are more.

Another journalist was killed yesterday in Basra, about 550 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. The American freelance writer was found dead late Tuesday.

Steven Vincent of New York was shot multiple times hours after he and his Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint, police said.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 46 journalists and 20 media support workers have been killed covering the war in Iraq since March 2003. Insurgent actions are responsible for the bulk of the deaths.

The death underscored how "Iraq continues to be the most dangerous country in the world in which to work as a journalist," the group said.

Hur Herald ©from Sunny Cal
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