Roadside bombs kill 2 in Iraq

Roadside bombs killed an American soldier and an Iraqi policemen, and the handcuffed, blindfolded and bullet-ridden bodies of two Iraqi men were found on the streets of the capital on Friday, officials said.

Police also maintained a tight curfew in Baqouba, 35 miles (55 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, as the death toll from widespread insurgent attacks there rose to 30, officials said.

In the first U.S. military casualty reported in three days, an American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Friday. The explosion hit a military vehicle at about 7:15 p.m. Thursday, killing the soldier from Multinational Division-Baghdad.

The bombing raised to at least 2,397 the number of members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

On Friday, the weekly day of worship in mostly Muslim Iraq, a road side bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol exploded in southwestern Baghdad at 8:20 a.m., killing one policeman and wounding two, said police Capt. Jamil Hussein.

Around the same time, police found the corpses of two middle-aged Iraqi men in a mostly Sunni Arab neighborhood of western Baghdad, Hussein said. The men, handcuffed, blindfolded and bullet-ridden, appeared to be the latest victims of a wave of kidnappings and killings by Sunni and Shiite death squads that target civilians.

New information also emerged about an unusual series of coordinated attacks by insurgents on Thursday in and around Baqouba, 35 miles (55 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad.

Using mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, the insurgents attacked five police checkpoints, a police station and an Iraqi army headquarters, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

By the time the fighting ended, seven Iraqi soldiers and 21 insurgents had been killed, Iraqi Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Awad said. He said 46 attackers were captured.

U.S. officials said Friday that seven Iraqi soldiers and two civilians also were killed and the wounded included 10 Iraqi soldiers, four policemen and four civilians.

Authorities imposed a curfew, residents said roads to Baghdad had been sealed off, and those restrictions remained in place on Friday morning.

On Thursday, Iraq's incoming prime minister won the backing of Iraq's top Shiite cleric for his plan to disband militias, which the U.S. believes is the key to calming sectarian strife and halting the country's slide toward civil war.

The endorsement of Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki's plan came during a meeting in Najaf with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The ayatollah told al-Maliki, a Shiite tapped last weekend to form a new Iraqi government, that security should be his top priority, reports the AP.

I.L.