Insurgents launched coordinated attacks Thursday against Iraqi army checkpoints northeast of Baghdad, killing six Iraqi soldiers, police said. Roadside bombs killed two U.S. soldiers and ignited a train carrying fuel in the south of Iraq's capital.
The attacks began about 2:30 p.m. against four Iraqi checkpoints along a road between Baqouba and Baghdad, 35 miles to the southwest, police Col. Mudhafar Mohammed said.
Attackers fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades during the attacks, he said. Another police official, Col. Mohammed Hussein, said fighting was continuing into late afternoon and that at least eight people: three soldiers, four policemen and one civilian had been wounded.
There was no report of insurgent casualties.
The attacks occurred a day after three American soldiers died in two separate bombings, one in Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital, and the other in northern Baghdad. Two U.S. soldiers died in the Baghdad attack.
On Sunday, four American soldiers from Task Force Baghdad were killed when their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb in southwest Baghdad.
In other developments:
The air strike occurred after troops from the U.S. 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and the Iraqi 1st Division came under fire from three buildings in a village west of Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, the military said.
As of Wednesday, at least 1,782 members of the U.S. military had died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
On Thursday, a train carrying fuel exploded into flames when it was hit by a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding six others, police said.
The attack, which sent a massive cloud of smoke over the southern part of the city, occurred in the southern neighborhood of Dora, an area where insurgents are known to be active, police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.
The bomb appeared to have targeted a nearby police commando checkpoint, Mahmoud said. One of those killed and four of the injured are security force members, he said. The rest were civilians.
It wasn't clear if the train, which was heading south, was also the target.
Most of the wounded suffered serious burns, Thaer said.
An Internet posting in the name of al Qaeda in Iraq, the country's most feared terror group, claimed responsibility for the train attack.
The Bush administration has been eager to maintain political momentum in Iraq, hoping a broad-based government can lure Sunni Arabs guerrillas away from the insurgency. A key step in that strategy is a new constitution, which is to be completed by Aug. 15 and presented to the voters in a referendum two months later.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld came to Baghdad to urge the Iraqis to finish the draft charter on time. "People are simply going to have to recognize that (in) any constitutional drafting process, compromise is necessary. It's important. It's understandable. It's the way democratic systems work," he said.