Three U.S. soldiers were killed and two were injured Thursday in an ambush on the outskirts of Saddam Hussein's hometown, a military spokesman said.
The three soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division were killed by small arms fire in the village of Al-Ouja, just south of Tikrit, late Thursday, Lt. Col. William McDonald said.
The two wounded soldiers were evacuated to a medical treatment facility and the names of those killed were withheld pending notification of next of kin, he said.
The soldiers were part of a patrol investigating a suspected site used to launch rocket propelled grenades, or RPG's, at American military convoys. The weapons have been used to launch repeated attacks against the U.S. military in and around Tikrit.
In other developments:Earlier Thursday, insurgents ambushed two U.S. military convoys with remote-controlled bombs and opened fire on one of them, unleashing a three-hour gunbattle in the city of Khaldiyah, about 50 miles west of Baghdad. The U.S. military said two soldiers were wounded.Senator Edward Kennedy blasted the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq. Kennedy told the AP that the war in Iraq was a fraud ``made up in Texas.'' The veteran Mass. Democrat said the administration's current Iraq policy is "adrift." And he charged that the decision to go to war was aimed at providing Republicans a political boost. President Bush gave his administration's firmest assertion yet that there is no proven link between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11. Critics have said the administration has tried to create the impression of Saddam's involvement in the attacks, without directly making such a claim, in order to boost public support for the war against Iraq. A fire continues to rage on an oil pipeline in northern Iraq. U.S. military officials say it was triggered by an explosion along a pipeline carrying crude from the oil fields near Kirkuk to Iraq's largest refinery at Beiji, more than 130 miles north of Baghdad. The military said the cause of the fire was not yet known. Germany's U.N. ambassador said nobody on the Security Council has ever threatened to veto a new Iraq resolution, and a French diplomat stressed that Paris has never had any intention of opposing the U.S. proposal. Former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix says the U.S.-led coalition could have avoided going to war with Iraq last May. Blix tells the BBC that although there was a risk Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, the coalition should have allowed U.N. weapons inspectors to do their job a little longer.About 20 miles to the east of Khaldiya, a nervous American patrol shot at a wedding party in Fallujah late Wednesday, killing a 14-year-old boy and wounding six other people after mistaking celebratory gunfire for an attack, witnesses said. In Baghdad, police backed by U.S. soldiers and helicopters sealed a large part of the center of the city Thursday in a raid to capture car thieves. Two men were arrested at an auto repair shop on suspicion of having stolen a police vehicle. Officials say the U.S. soldiers who accidentally killed eight Iraqi policemen and a Jordanian guard in Fallujah were only in the city for a day before the incident occurred. U.S. and Iraqi officials indicate confusion and inexperience may have contributed to the killings. In an audiotape broadcast Wednesday by Arab satellite broadcaster al-Arabiya, a speaker purporting to be Saddam Hussein urged Iraqis to escalate attacks on Americans and called on U.S. and other coalition forces to leave the country "as soon as possible and without any conditions."
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