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Three U.S. Soldiers Killed in Attacks, Iraqi Governor Targeted with Bomb

By Ian Fisher

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- ABU SAIDA, Iraq

Three American soldiers were killed in the volatile area north of Baghdad, the military reported on Monday, and a roadside bomb in this tiny village narrowly missed a provincial governor on his way to work.

The attack on the governor in Abu Saida, north of Baquba, which is northeast of Baghdad, followed several familiar patterns in the scores of attacks in recent weeks.

It was carried out with a powerful bomb planted just off the road, apparently detonated by remote control, and it was aimed at an Iraqi official who some local people said had been deemed a collaborator with the U.S.-led occupation forces. In this case the intended victim appears to have been the governor of Diyala province, Abdullah Shahad al-Jaburi.

“The people regard him as an American, as an agent, as a spy for the Americans,” said Munthir Abdel Hadi Abbas, 25, a local man. “The people look at the Americans as an enemy.”

Jaburi was driving in a convoy from his home to his office in Baquba, the province’s capital, when the blast went off, after 8 a.m. The blast tore a hole in the ground, heaving up the earth, buckling the pavement and cutting several power lines. Two Iraqi policemen were reported to have been injured. A witness said the blast had been powerful enough to flip over a Mercedes traveling in the opposite direction.

Baquba is one of the easternmost towns in a volatile area north of Baghdad, which has large pockets of people still loyal to Saddam Hussein and has been a center for attacks against U.S. troops and others regarded as cooperating with them.

The three U.S. soldiers, whose deaths brought to 97 the number who have died in combat since President Bush declared an end to major hostilities in May, were also killed in that area.

On Sunday night one soldier was killed when his vehicle hit a land mine in Beiji, about 120 miles north of Baghdad, the military reported. On Monday, another soldier was killed when an attacker fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. military patrol in Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown.

About noon on Monday, near the town of Jalula, northeast of Baquba, one soldier was killed and two were wounded when their convoy hit a roadside bomb.

The military revised the death toll in the suicide bombing on Sunday at the Baghdad Hotel, saying eight people had died in the blast. Many members of the Iraqi Governing Council, the U.S.-appointed governing body in Iraq, and some U.S. contractors stay in that hotel when they are in Baghdad.

Lt. Col. George Krivo, a military spokesman, said the dead included four Iraqi police officers assigned to protect government sites and two civilians who were there.