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U.S. Troops Under Fire In Iraq

Gunmen ambushed a U.S. military convoy in northern Iraq on Monday, killing an American soldier and wounding four others. Also, four soldiers were wounded in what appeared to be a land-mine attack in a wealthy Baghdad neighborhood, military officials and witnesses said.

It was one of the most violent days for U.S. troops since the war ended last month.

In the north, unidentified attackers opened fire on an eight-vehicle convoy on a resupply mission to a base near the town of Hadithah, about 120 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The command said the ambush happened at 6:15 a.m. and that the troops belonged to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

The gunmen used machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the attack, the latest of several on coalition forces this month. The statement said helicopters were immediately dispatched to the area to find the assailants.

The names of the two soldiers were withheld pending notification of their families.

In the well-off Baghdad neighborhood of Yarmouk, witnesses said they heard several explosions and a 15-minute burst of gunfire Monday afternoon along the road to the airport, west of the capital.

A U.S. soldier near the scene said it was an ambush and that at least one Humvee was destroyed.

Another soldier, who also refused to give his name, said it appeared the Humvee hit a land mine and four soldiers were wounded. Troops blocked the highway, keeping reporters from the scene and causing a traffic jam.

Three American occupants of the Humvee were injured, said a third soldier, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said one was burned all over his body, a second was burned on the face and hands and a third sustained minor burns to his hands.

In other news:

  • A top-ranking police official in Baghdad was fired because of his ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Abdul Razak al-Abbassi, who had helped U.S. forces try to recreate a police force, was fired on the orders of L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq, said Lt. Col. Richard Vanderlinden, commander of the U.S. Army's 709th Military Police Battalion. A 33-year veteran of the force, Abbassi commanded the west Baghdad police force and was considered key to coaxing Baghdad's 4,000 or so police officers to return to work and rebuild their looted station houses. But al-Abbassi was found to have had full Baath membership.
  • U.S. soldiers shot and killed a woman in Iraq, after officials say she approached them with hand grenades Monday in a city northeast of Baghdad. U.S. Central Command says soldiers warned the woman several times before they opened fire.
  • On Sunday, one soldier was killed and another injured when a munitions dump they had been guarding exploded. The blast near the town of Diwaniya, 95 miles south of Baghdad, was not thought to be a result of hostile action, the U.S. Central Command said. The soldiers' names were withheld until their families could be notified.
  • On Sunday morning in the al-Thawra slum area of Baghdad, three people were killed and at least two others injured when a surface-to-air missile left over from Saddam Hussein's regime fell as Iraqi contractors were removing four unexploded Iraqi missiles left over from the war, residents said.
  • Meanwhile, the U.N. World Food program said it was buying some 1.3 million tons of mostly wheat and barley from Iraqi farmers in the coming months. The move, beginning June 1, is designed "to make sure that farmers in Iraq can sell their harvest and can receive some sort of income," spokeswoman Antonia Paradela said.
  • Arabs and Turks in Iraq's main northern oil city of Kirkuk threatened to boycott a mayoral vote after an American general on Sunday approved the choice of six final members of a 30-member city council.

    The council now is to choose a mayor, and Arabs and ethnic Turks are upset because they believe the post is certain to go to a Kurd. Arab delegates have asked for a delay on the mayoral vote until Monday — a move some saw as a stalling tactic.

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