U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq Ambush

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Gunmen in Iraq have killed a U.S. soldier and wounded another in an ambush on a military convoy in the centre of the country, the U.S. military says.

It was a rare U.S. fatality in action in Iraq since President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat on May 1 — three weeks after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

The deadly ambush was one of three separate attacks reported by the U.S. forces in a single day, marking an increase in what have until now been sporadic and largely ineffective guerrilla- style attacks.

The military said in a statement that gunmen fired assault rifles, machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades at a convoy of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment convoy near the town of Haditha, 180 km (110 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

“The eight-vehicle convoy was conducting a resupply mission from Al Asad Air Base to Al Qaim (on the Syrian border) when it was attacked at about 6:15 a.m. (3.15 p.m. British time),” it said.

The statement said attack helicopters and ground forces were immediately brought in to secure the area and seek out the attackers. It did not report any Iraqi casualties.

The statement said the wounded soldier was evacuated by helicopter. The names of both soldiers were being withheld pending next-of-kin notification, it said.

U.S. forces in Iraq have been attacked several times over the past weeks. An American soldier was shot dead at a bridge south of Baghdad earlier this month.

But the attacks so far do not appear to be part of a coordinated anti-American guerrilla campaign.

In an indication of a possible rise in such attacks as Washington struggles to fill a power vacuum after Saddam`s fall and restart the devastated infrastructure, the U.S. military reported two other attacks on Monday.

A military police position in Baqoba north of Baghdad came under grenade attack, another U.S. statement said.

As Fifth Corps soldiers searched for the attackers, they shot twice and killed a woman who ignored warning shots and continued to walk towards them while hiding two grenades, it said.

In the last incident, an unknown assailant fired a rocket-propelled grenade at 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) soldiers who were on patrol in Baiji but the round did not explode, the military said.