Over 20 Dead in Mosul Violence

Militants targeted a U.S. patrol with a roadside bomb Tuesday that killed four nearby civilians in the northern city of Mosul, where an assassination attempt against top police officials sparked clashes that left more than two dozen insurgents dead or captured.

Morgue officials in southern Iraq, meanwhile, said they had received a half-dozen corpses of Iraqi army soldiers, each with bound hands and bullet-riddled heads and torsos.

Iraq also sought to soothe relations with neighboring Jordan, with both nations agreeing to return their respective ambassadors after a weekend diplomatic dispute.

On Tuesday, Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie (search), said his nation's ambassador to Jordan would return "as soon as practically possible."

The announcement came a day after King Abdullah II (search) ordered the return of Jordan's top diplomat in Iraq, the official Jordanian news agency reported.

Both countries withdrew their envoys Sunday in a dispute over the infiltration of insurgents across the border.

Tensions between the two countries boiled over last week, with Iraqi demonstrators angered over the alleged involvement of a Jordanian in a deadly suicide bombing hoisting the Iraqi flag at the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad.

Late Monday, attackers in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, ambushed a convoy carrying security forces officials, including top police chief Brig. Gen. Abu Al-Waled (search), sparking a gunbattle in front of a main mosque. Police killed 17 militants and captured 14, said Col. Wathiq Ali, deputy police commander.

Ali said no security forces were injured in the clash, which saw guerrillas carrying mortar launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov rifles.

Insurgents have carried out countless attacks on Iraq's army and police — fledgling security forces the U.S. military says must gain better control of the country before any major U.S troop drawdown in Iraq, now in its third year of post-invasion conflict.

Mosul hospital officials, citing witnesses, said insurgents hit a U.S. patrol with a jerry-rigged bomb in a northwestern neighborhood early Tuesday, damaging a Humvee as it crossed a bridge and killing four civilians in a car near the blast.

It was not immediately clear whether U.S. troops suffered casualties. U.S. military officials were not immediately available for comment.

Earlier, the U.S. military reported the death of a Marine in a restive western province.

The Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (search), was killed in action Monday in Anbar province, which contains the flashpoint cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, the U.S. military said. The statement gave no further details.

As of Monday, March 21, 2005, at least 1,522 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Officials at the morgue in the southeastern city of Kut said the facility on Monday received the bodies of six slain Iraqi army soldiers — five collected together, one separately.

Each soldier had his hands tied behind his back and suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest, said Hadi Al-Itabi, head of the morgue at Al-Zahraa Hospital in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Iraq Defense Ministry officials said Tuesday they had no information on the incident.

Gunbattles broke out Tuesday in the streets of the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, where militants riding in three cars opened fire on people shopping along a main thoroughfare, Interior Ministry officials said.

Shopkeepers and residents returned fire, killing three assailants. A man, woman and child were injured in the fight and taken to a local hospital.

Earlier, gunmen in the same quarter killed a policeman as he drove to work, said police Lt. Col. Hafidh Al-Ghrayri.

Mosul residents also said five mortar shells landed in a Kurdish enclave of the ethnically mixed city, injuring one.

Three rockets landed overnight on the town of Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad, killing one child, said a local police official, who asked not to be named fearing retribution from militants.

Seeking to seal a political deal after Jan. 30 elections, the Shiite-clergy's spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (search), was expected to meet Wednesday with Jalal Talabani (search), the Kurdish leader likely to become Iraq's next president.

The Kurds want the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk to be returned to the autonomous Kurdistan region immediately after the government convenes, but an official from al-Sistani's office said the spiritual leader wants the country's new National Assembly to decide that in Iraq's future constitution.

Former dictator Saddam Hussein conducted ethnic cleansing in Kirkuk and the surrounding region, driving Kurds from their homes and replacing them with Iraqi Arabs.