BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. forces raided various locations in Iraq Monday as the hunt for Saddam Hussein (search) continued, with military officials saying windfalls of intelligence were helping them close in on the deposed dictator.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said over the weekend that the former Iraqi president was unable to mount a resistance because he's too busy "trying to save his own skin."
Meanwhile, one U.S. soldier was killed and three others were wounded Monday in an attack on their convoy in central Baghdad (search). Another soldier died in a vehicle accident.
Several raids were carried out on suspected safe houses in Baghdad and on the outskirts of Tikrit (search), Saddam's hometown and power base.
Iraqi contractors hired by the 101st Airborne Division (search), meanwhile, began Monday to demolish the house in Mosul where Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay (search) were killed in a firefight with U.S. troops.
At least twice in the past week, American soldiers have raided houses where they think they missed Saddam by less than 24 hours — once in Mosul, and once at a farmhouse near Tikrit.
After the Tuesday firefight that left Uday and Qusay dead, intelligence sources reported Saddam was at another location elsewhere in Mosul. Elements of the 101st Airborne Division mounted a raid, said a military official familiar with the operation.
"We missed him by a matter of hours," the official said.
In Monday's attack against a U.S. convoy, witnesses said three soldiers were thrown from the canvas-top Humvee when a bomb was detonated as the convoy passed along Palestine Street.
"I saw at least two injured soldiers, then I saw the third one who was thrown out of the car. They [other soldiers] pulled him under the car," said witness Alim Naati.
The U.S. military said the 1st Armored Division soldier was killed and three wounded when an unknown number of individuals dropped an improvised explosive device on their convoy from a bridge in the Al Rasheed neighborhood of Baghdad at 11:40 a.m. Since then, two of the wounded soldiers have returned to duty.
And a U.S. Army soldier died and one was injured in a vehicle accident around 2:30 p.m. local time Friday, while traveling south along Highway 1 north of Nasiriyah (search).
North of Baghdad, on the road from Baqouba to Tikrit, a floating bomb blew up underneath a bridge over the Diala River U.S. forces had been repairing.
A pontoon crossing nearby, which had been open for civilian traffic during the repairs to the main bridge, was immediately closed.
"Because of this damage we've got to shut it to all the civilian traffic effective today," said Lt. Col. Bill Adamson, a 4th Infantry Division commander.
It was believed to have been the first such attack on a bridge, structures vital to a country bisected by the Tigris and Euphrates.
The bridge was a major link over the Diala, a tributary of the Tigris. Baqouba and Tikrit are both hotbeds of resistance in the so-called "Sunni Triangle," where most postwar attacks on coalition forces have taken place.
In Tikrit, U.S. forces dug up freshly buried weapons outside an abandoned building that once belonged to Saddam's Fedayeen militia.
The munitions were sufficient for a month of guerrilla attacks on U.S. troops, said Maj. Bryan Luke, 37, of Mobile, Ala., whose patrol found the cache.
The discovery "saved a few lives out there," Luke said. "Forty mines could have caused a lot of problems for U.S. forces here in Tikrit."
The military also would not confirm a raid in Baghdad's upscale Mansour neighborhood Sunday evening. Witnesses and journalists say soldiers raided the home of Prince Rabiah Muhammed al-Habib (search), one of Iraq's most influential tribal leaders.
The prince, who said he wasn't home at the time of the raid, told The Associated Press that he believed the Americans were looking for Saddam.
"I found the house was searched in a very rough way. It seems the Americans came thinking Saddam Hussein was inside my house," al-Habib said.
One hospital reported at least five Iraqis were killed.
Task Force 20, which carried out the raid that killed Uday and Qusay, and which is made up of members of the 101st Airborne Division and CIA operatives, also conducted the raid on al-Habib's house.
That raid came hours after troops of the 4th Infantry Division moved in on three farms in the Tikrit area in search of Saddam's new security chief, and perhaps the ousted dictator himself.
"We missed him by 24 hours," said Lt. Col. Steve Russell.
Hundreds of soldiers, along with Bradley fighting vehicles and Apache attack helicopters, surrounded the farmhouses. No shots were fired as about 25 men emerged from the houses peacefully. They were detained briefly and released.
That raid was prompted by Thursday's capture of a group of men in Tikrit believed to include as many as 10 Saddam bodyguards. Soldiers learned from them that Saddam's new security chief — and possibly the dictator himself — were staying at one of the farms, Russell said.
"The noose is tightening around these guys," said Col. James C. Hickey, a brigade commander. "They're running out of places to hide, and it's becoming difficult for them to move because we're everywhere. Any day now we're going to knock on their door, or kick in their door, and they know it."
Gen. Richard Myers (search), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (search), visited 4th Infantry commanders in Tikrit on Sunday, and later told reporters in Baghdad that Saddam was too busy "trying to save his own skin" to lead an insurgency against American forces.
"He is so busy surviving he is having no impact on the security situation here," Myers said. "It's a big country, but we'll find him."
Myers met with Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq.
With U.S. soldiers standing guard, workers used jackhammers to begin demolition of the villa in northern Mosul where Uday and Qusay were killed. Chunks of masonry fell to the ground, and the area filled with debris.
U.S. forces found some interesting items in the Mosul house.
Rod Nordland, a Newsweek correspondent-at-large reporting from Baghdad, said Monday that there was both the serious and the hilarious when it came to items the brothers had packed with them.
"The hilarious is a briefcase with Viagra, ladies' purses, a load of expensive perfume and ... loads of other things you might take to a disco, not when you've got thousands of troops hunting you down," Nordland told Fox News.
He said it appeared as if Uday and Qusay were left on their own with only an older, overweight bodyguard and Qusay's teenage son, both of whom were also killed in the firefight.
"It sounds like, in the end, all they had were each other," he said.
The owner of the house, a distant cousin of Saddam and his sons, had apparently made some money on the Iraqi black market in recent years. His brother had been jailed by Saddam's regime shortly before the war started and was likely tortured.
On Monday, residents passed by asking for souvenirs, but the soldiers told them that was out of the question.
Another U.S. soldier was killed south of Baghdad on Sunday, bringing to 48 the number of soldiers killed in a guerrilla war since May 1, when President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq.
In all, 163 U.S. soldiers have died in combat in Iraq, 16 more than were killed in the 1991 Gulf War.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.