An American soldier was killed and four companions wounded Saturday in an attack near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit north of the capital, a military statement said.
It was at least the seventh U.S. soldier killed in attacks in Iraq over the past two weeks.
Gunmen opened fire on the troops using small arms and a rocket-propelled grenade, said the brief statement released by U.S. Central Command.
The injured troops were evacuated by helicopter and ambulance to medical facilities in the area, the statement said. The names of the soldiers and their unit were withheld to allow notification of relatives. No further details were available.The world-famous treasures of Nimrud, unaccounted for since Baghdad fell two months ago, have been located in good condition in the country's Central Bank - in a secret vault-inside-a-vault submerged in sewage water, U.S. occupation authorities announced Saturday. They also said fewer than 50 items from the Iraqi National Museum's main exhibition collection remain missing after the looting and destruction that followed the capture of Baghdad by U.S. forces.One U.S. soldier died and two were wounded Friday in a road accident about 20 miles north of Baghdad. A military statement said they were providing a security escort to Coalition Provisional Authority personnel at the time of the accident. The wounded soldiers were evacuated to a field hospital for treatment.Military sources say unidentified assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at a U-S patrol near an air base west of Baghdad Friday. Soldiers returned fire, but there were no reports of casualties on either side.A retired intelligence official who served during the months before the war told The Associated Press that President Bush's administration distorted intelligence and presented conjecture as evidence to justify a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "What disturbs me deeply is what I think are the disingenuous statements made from the very top about what the intelligence did say," said Greg Thielmann, who retired last September. "The area of distortion was greatest in the nuclear field."The chief of the Pentagon's intelligence agency said Friday the agency had no hard evidence of Iraqi chemical weapons last fall but believed Iraq had a program in place to produce them. The assessment suggests a higher degree of uncertainty about the immediacy of an Iraqi threat, which was the main justification for war. Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, discussed the matter at a Capitol Hill news conference Friday as the administration scrambled to respond to news reports about excerpts from a September 2002 DIA report on facilities and other pieces of Iraq's arms-building infrastructure.The New York Times reports in its Saturday editions that American and British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims that mysterious trailers found in Iraq were for making deadly germs. In interviews with the Times over the last week, they said the mobile units were more likely intended for other purposes and charged that the evaluation process had been damaged by a rush to judgment. After a three-month absence, the U.N. nuclear agency has returned to postwar Iraq to assess the nation's biggest nuclear plant -- abandoned, looted and left in alarming disarray. U.S. defense officials say they found more radioactive material at the site than they expected, raising questions about the reliability of prewar intelligence about the site.Japan's ruling coalition will draft legislation allowing the government to send troops to Iraq to help rebuild the country, Japanese media reported Saturday.Poland has assembled a 7,000-strong multilateral force for peacekeeping in Iraq, with participation from more than a dozen countries. The Defense Ministry says the Polish-led force will have the task of maintaining order and helping establish new civilian authorities in a zone covering central and southern parts of Iraq.
In other developments:
Tikrit, which remains a sensitive area as American forces try to keep a fragile peace in postwar Iraq, is located about 120 miles north of Baghdad.
Dozens of U.S. soldiers have been killed or injured in a spate of attacks in central Iraq since the end of the war nearly two months ago.
Of particular volatility is the area around Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold about 30 miles west of Baghdad. More than 1,500 U.S. Army solders from the 3rd Infantry Division were added to that area last week to prevent unrest and quell attacks on U.S. troops.
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