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8 U.S. Soldiers Killed In West Baghdad

InternationalKHALDIYAH, Iraq, September 18 (IOL) - Eight U.S. soldiers were reportedly killed Thursday, September 18, in an attack on an American convoy in the town of Khaldiyah, west of Baghdad, while other U.S. forces took more fire across the war-scarred country, the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite channel said.
Eyewitnesses said that a bomb exploded underneath an American military vehicle that caught fire with about 10 soldiers inside.

The rest of the convoy was pelted with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) as it struggled to make its way to a nearby U.S. base, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Local resident Mahmmoud Ali, 45, said he saw eight badly burned soldiers taken from the bombed vehicle.

He said the convoy was hit while traveling through the town en route from Fallujah to Ramadi, two towns west of the capital.

\"A bomb exploded underneath a troop transport. It caught fire. The remainder of the convoy tried to continue and was hit by rocket-propelled grenades 500 meters (yards) away,\" he said.

Yussif Ali, who recalled seeing only four bodies, added that the Americans again cut off the road and confirmed that the other vehicles that continued on their way came under more RPG fire four kilometers (2.5 miles) away.

A deafening explosion was heard from the U.S. base outside the town, where large stocks of munitions are stored. But there was no immediate word on the cause or the consequences.

Two Iraqi civilians were reportedly hurt in the attacks, witnesses said, though there was no word on how they were wounded.

An American helicopter gunship circled the area, apparently poised to evacuate the wounded but did not land, the witnesses said.

The U.S. military in Baghdad said it had no immediate report of the incident.

The attack came amid high tensions high in the region, with U.S. troops shooting dead a teenager late Wednesday, September 17, in Fallujah.

On Saturday, September 13, the U.S. military issued an ‘apology’ after nine security guards from Fallujah were killed the previous day when U.S. troops opened fire as the guards were chasing thieves.

Grenade, Rocket Attacks

Meanwhile in Mosul, U.S. troops came under a series of grenade and rocket attack, witnesses said Thursday.

They gave no figures for casualties in the attacks that started shortly before midnight and targeted U.S. soldiers at the entrance to Mosul, in front of a restaurant and at a hotel here.

The U.S. military confirmed rockets hit the Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) office in Mosul damaging some vehicles and leaving two people slightly wounded. It did not confirm the other attacks.

A military spokesman also said a soldier of the 4th Infantry Division was wounded Wednesday by a bomb in the town of Taji, 10 kilometers (six miles) north of Baghdad. He did not give any details.

Residents of Mosul, 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of Baghdad, said it was the first time they had seen such a spate of closely timed attacks on U.S. forces since the Americans invaded the country in April.

A nine-vehicle U.S. convoy was attacked with grenades and rockets about 11:30 am (0730 GMT) at the southern entrance to Mosul, local resident Mohammad Yunes, 45, told AFP.

He said U.S. forces quickly sealed off the area and brought in reinforcements.

Shortly before, attackers hurled a grenade at an American military vehicle stopped in front of a restaurant where some soldiers were eating near Mosul University, said Ibrahim Taqqa, an engineer. He said U.S. troops quickly surrounded the university.

Attackers using grenades and RPGs targeted a local hotel used by American troops shortly before midnight, staff at the hotel told AFP. They said some rooms were destroyed but provided no further details.

Two Iraqi policemen were also found dead, their throats slit, on the sidewalk in front of the local U.S.-supported television station around midnight, according to an employee of the station, Samir Abed Rabbo, 50.

American Held

In another development, U.S. troops in Iraq detained an American on suspicion of attacking the U.S.-led forces but later released him, a top U.S. general said Thursday while denying any Americans are currently in custody.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez was responding to reports that six prisoners claiming American citizenship and two saying they were Britons were among the thousands of people held in Iraq as \"security detainees.\"

\"We currently have no American under arrest in our detention facilities,\" he told a news conference. \"Have we detained Americans in the past? Yes.\"

He said an American had been held in the \"post-major combat phase,\" referring to the period since May 1 when President George W. Bush declared major operations in Iraq over.

\"He was detained on suspicion of having conducted operations against coalition forces,\" Sanchez said, noting that the prisoner was released after questioning and no charges were filed.

On Tuesday, September 16, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski said at the main Iraqi prison west of Baghdad that six inmates held as security detainees were claiming to be Americans and two said they were British.

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