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Roadside Bomb Kills Three U.S. Soldiers

The roadside bomb exploded at about 9 a.m. when soldiers were travelling in a convoy near Samarra, a town 60 miles north of Baghdad. The deaths bring the total number of soldiers killed to 205 since President Bush announced the end of major combat operations on May 1.

The American deaths come as attacks continued on Iraqis working with Coalition forces. Four civilians were killed Wednesday when a car bomb exploded at about 11 a.m. in Irbil, a northern Kurdish city near Kirkuk.

The bomb detonated at the entrance of the U.S.-backed Interior Ministry headquarters, killing the bomber, two policeman, a passerby and a 13-year-old girl, Reuters reported.

According to a Kurdish official more than 100 people were wounded.

Also Wednesday, a minibus exploded after hitting a roadside bomb in Baghdad, killing two people and injuring two others, according to hospital officials.

The latest bombings followed a night of U.S. military strikes aimed at suspected militants. Dozens of explosions were heard overnight as coalition forces targeted suspected insurgents.

“The purpose of the operation is to attack, kill or capture individuals (launching attacks) against coalition activities,” Capt. Jason Beck, spokesman for the First Armored Division, said. The mission has been dubbed Operation Iron Grip.

“This is obviously a special time of the year for all soldiers, so we must remain vigilant,” he said.

Since Saddam was captured on Dec. 13, hundred of suspected loyalists have been arrested west and north of Baghdad.

“We continue to gain intelligence from the neighborhoods here and the residents of Baghdad who are seemingly frustrated at these continued (rebel) attacks,” Maj. John Frisbie of the 1st Armored Division told The Associated Press.

The latest suspected insurgent captured by U.S. officials, Ghazi Hanash, was arrested on Tuesday at his apartment in Baghdad. He is said to be close to former Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, whom U.S. soldiers have said could be responsible for organizing attacks against U.S. soldiers.

Al-Douri, number six on the U.S. list of the 55-most wanted Iraqis, is the senior most official who has escaped capture.

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