Nine die in Iraqi vehicle bombings

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The Independent Online

Five US soldiers died near Baghdad yesterday as Iraqi insurgents triggered two separate bombings that also killed four Iraqis and wounded about 40 other people.

The attacks occurred as UN security experts began to study the possible return of UN international staff to play a key role in Iraq's transformation to democracy.

In Khaldiyah, 70 miles west of Baghdad, three American soldiers were killed and six more wounded when a vehicle, possibly driven by a suicide bomber, blew up at a US checkpoint near a bridge on the River Euphrates. At least eight Iraqis were injured.

Earlier in the day, two other US soldiers were killed by a bomb that struck their four-vehicle convoy north of Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim city near Khaldiyah, in a centre of anti-American resistance.

The deaths brought to 512 the number of US service personnelwho have died since the United States and its allies launched the Iraq war on 20 March. Most deaths have occurred since President George Bush declared an end to active combat on 1 May.

A third attack took place when a truck bomb exploded yesterday morning near government buildings in Samarra, north of Baghdad, barely missing a US military police patrol. The blast killed four Iraqi civilians and wounded about 40 people, including seven US soldiers, who were cut by flying glass inside one of the buildings. The explosion also gouged a large crater in the street.

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