Gunmen, including a major in the new Iraqi police force (search), attacked a group of American soldiers, sparking a gunbattle in which the officer was killed and two other attackers wounded, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The soldiers were observing a house belonging to a person suspected in rocket-propelled grenade attacks on American forces in the village of Qadisiyah (search), 30 miles south of Tikrit, when the gunmen opened fire Saturday evening, the military said in a statement.

The Americans fired back and threw a hand grenade at the attackers, killing one and wounding two. Two more gunmen were captured. The slain attacker was identified as an active Iraqi police major.

The U.S. military has been training Iraqi police forces to take on a greater role in fighting the insurgency waged by guerrillas against American troops, mainly in Baghdad (searchand regions north and west of the capital. Supporters of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime are thought to be leading the campaign, which has also targeted police and other Iraqis seen as cooperating with the American occupation.

The troops were from the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, which patrols the region around Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's home town 90 miles north of the capital.