U.S. Soldiers Attacked in Fallujah

A day after three U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq, violence erupted again as American servicemen came under attack Thursday near the Fallujah (search) mayor's office, but escaped uninjured.

U.S. military personnel killed one of the three Fallujah attackers, while two girls who were caught in the crossfire sustained injuries, according to U.S. Lt. Col. Brian Drinkwine. However, an Iraqi official at the scene said the dead man was a bystander, and a witness said there was only one gunman.

The condition of the two girls was not known. Witnesses said a woman and child were hit.

"While we were conducting a meeting in the city council building, we were fired upon," Drinkwine said, referring to the building where the mayor has his office. "We returned fire and killed one enemy."

On Wednesday, three American soldiers were killed in separate attacks.

• A soldier from the 1st Armored Division (search) was shot and killed while on patrol in the al-Mansour district of western Baghdad, the U.S. command said.

• A female soldier from the 4th Infantry Division (search) died when a roadside bomb exploded about 300 yards from the main U.S. base in Tikrit (search), Saddam Hussein's hometown. Two other soldiers were wounded in the blast. U.S. troops in Tikrit fired mortars overnight into empty fields near the base in a show of force.

• Another soldier from the 4th Infantry Division died following a rocket-propelled grenade attack on an American convoy near Samara, about 60 miles north of the Iraqi capital, according to the military.

At Fallujah General Hospital on Thursday, the commander of the Fallujah Protection Force, Ali Jassim, said the unidentified dead man was not one of the attackers but an innocent bystander. He said a policeman, Mohammed Muafaq, 27, was wounded by a gunshot to the hip.

Witness accounts of the incident were at odds with that of the military, with some claiming the gunmen fired from a passing car on a U.S. foot patrol. Others said a single gunman attacked from the street.

Walid al-Jumaly, 38, a tire shop owner, said more than 10 soldiers were walking across the wide main street in front of the mayor's office and an adjacent U.S. Army (search) post when a man stepped from a side street, shouted "Allahu Akbar (God is Great)" and started firing with an assault rifle.

He said the Americans used tear gas and returned fire. Spent smoke canisters were seen on the pavement near the mayor's office.

After the attack, residents of the Euphrates River (search) city told American reporters they were happy the soldiers came under attack and called the attacker a freedom fighter.

Shortly before the attack, a fuel tanker in a U.S. convoy near Amiriyah, southeast of Fallujah, was hit by a mine or roadside bomb, according to Mohammed Hamid, 31, who lives near where the attack occurred. He said a soldier in the passenger seat of the cab pulling the tanker was killed and the driver was wounded. The military had no information on the attack.

The fuel tanker was still burning two hours later.

Three U.S. Humvees were patrolling the main street in Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, and Iraqi police blocked the street at both ends of the town.

The latest casualties -- names were withheld pending notification of relatives -- bring to 90 the number of American soldiers to die by hostile fire in Iraq since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1. A total of 314 American service members have died since the war started on March 20, according to the Department of Defense.

A bomb was found at the mayor's office last week and defused. U.S. troops routinely are in the office to coordinate with Iraqis who are carrying out reconstruction projects in the region.

Fallujah, a major city in the so-called "Sunni Triangle," has been the scene of repeated attacks by resistance fighters opposed to the American occupation. The region, a wedge of land west and north of Baghdad, is home to a large population of Saddam Hussein supporters who are worried about being disenfranchised after the dictator's ouster in April.

The Sunnis, while a minority in Iraq, had held power in Iraq for most of the 80 years since the country won independence from British colonial rule.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.