BAGHDAD, Iraq – Three attacks Tuesday in Iraq left at least four people dead and 19 wounded as interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi prepared to travel to Jordan to encourage Iraqis living outside the country to vote in the Jan. 30 election.
The U.S. military announced that a American soldier died from injuries suffered in a roadside bombing late Monday north of Baghdad, bringing the unofficial number of American troops killed in Iraq this month to 135.
That is the same number as in April, when the insurgence flared in the former enemy fighter-stronghold of Fallujah; insurgents' counterattacks there and elsewhere in Iraq fueled the recent death toll this month.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, said Monday the U.S. military death toll in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 stands at 1,251. That is up 21 since the Pentagon last reported a total on Nov. 24.
In one Tuesday attack, a homicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives next to a U.S. convoy, killing four Iraqi civilians and injuring 19 people, including two American soldiers.
Police Capt. Talib al-Alawani said a bomber drove his car into the convoy on the Baghdad airport road.
Several casualties were seen lying next to a damaged vehicle, according to an eyewitness who arrived on the scene before troops sealed off the stretch of road where the blast occurred. A military ambulance drove up minutes later to evacuate the casualties.
The highway, which multinational troops use daily to commute between the huge military base at the airport and Baghdad's center, is considered one of the most dangerous roads in Iraq, site of many attacks against U.S. and Western forces. The British Embassy announced Monday that its staff would no longer be permitted to travel on the road.
Meanwhile, in the northern town of Beiji (search), a car bomb exploded near a U.S. patrol Tuesday, killing four Iraqi civilians and injuring 19 people, two of them American soldiers, the military said.
Another soldier from the 1st Infantry Division was wounded when insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a tank south of Beiji.
In Beiji, a U.S. military statement said the two attacks occurred about 9:10 a.m., but did not give the condition of the wounded nor specify whether the car bomb was a homicide attack.
U.S. troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships launched a series of attacks on parts of Beiji earlier this month to try to root out insurgents from the town, located on the major supply route from Baghdad to the north.
On Monday, 13 U.S. Marines were also wounded in a mortar attack south of Baghdad.
Allawi Appeals to Iraqis
Allawi was to appear later Tuesday before the Iraqi National Council (search), a government advisory body, where he was expected to answer questions about the meeting in Jordan. An official with Allawi's office would not identify the Iraqi groups who would take part in the meeting.
The get-together was seen as an effort to reach out to various Iraqi groups to encourage broad participation in the Jan. 30 election. Iraqi officials have insisted Allawi would not meet with "terrorists," meaning insurgent leaders.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the National Council on Tuesday that the government recognized the need to "widen the scope of participation" in the election to those groups "that renounce violence and terrorism."
Zebari said Allawi would meet with about 25 to 35 "personalities," mostly from the Ramadi area of Anbar province.
"We still think that national reconciliation is necessary and vital but we also make a distinction," Zebari said. "If there are people who are accused and are known for what they have committed ... these people should be tried according to the laws."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.