BAGHDAD, Iraq – Attackers lying in wait for Iraqi troops detonated a roadside bomb (search) on the dangerous road leading to Baghdad's airport Sunday, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding 11.
American troops took the Iraqi wounded to a U.S. aid station and waited while they were treated. Iraqi soldiers wept and hugged their U.S. comrades.
Elsewhere, U.S. forces clashed with insurgents in Samarra (search), striking back with helicopter gunships after guerrillas fired mortars into a residential neighborhood. U.S. 1st Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Neal O'Brien said at least four insurgents were killed.
Also Sunday, the Arab satellite TV network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape purportedly from Al Qaeda (search)-linked militants showing a South Korean hostage begging for his life and pleading with his government to withdraw troops from Iraq.
South Korean media identified the hostage as Kim Sun-il (search), 33, an employee of South Korea's Gana General Trading, Co., a supplier for the U.S. military.
The kidnappers identified themselves as belonging to Monotheism and Jihad, a group believed to be led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), who claimed responsibility for the videotaped beheading of American businessman Nicholas Berg in May. A statement made by armed, masked militants on the video gave South Korea 24 hours from Sunday night to meet its demand that Korean troops stay out of Iraq or "we will send you the head of this Korean."
On Monday, South Korea's deputy foreign minister, Choi Young-jin, said his country will still send 3,000 soldiers to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil beginning in August. That deployment was announced Friday.
Some 600 military medics and engineers currently in the southern city of Nasiriyah will join them, making South Korea the largest U.S. partner in the coalition after Britain.
In Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, insurgents fired mortar shells into a residential area, striking a home and killing a husband and wife, Iraqi authorities said.
The U.S. military said an American Marine was killed in action Saturday in Anbar province, which includes Ramadi and Fallujah. A mortar round also injured six police and four Iraqis in a separate attack Sunday near the Iraqi central bank in Baghdad.
Late Sunday, shooting erupted behind the Palestine Hotel, headquarters of several international news organizations. Hotel guards returned fire, and U.S. troops manned positions around the compound near the circle where Saddam Hussein's statue was hauled down in April 2003.
In southern Iraq, a blast and gunfire were heard early Monday in central Samawah, where Japanese troops are based, Japan's Kyodo news service reported.
The exact location of the blast and whether there were any casualties was unknown, Kyodo said. The agency said some witnesses said the blast took place near the Muthanna provincial government office. Samawah is the capital of Muthanna province.
Repairs continued on two key pipelines that transport crude oil to offshore terminals in the south, prolonging Iraq's absence from the market, a coalition spokesman said Sunday.
Iraqi oil officials had predicted that crude exports would resume Sunday and had said repairs on the smaller of the two key oil arteries were completed. But coalition spokesman Dominic D'Angelo said that was inaccurate, and that an estimate of when partial exports could resume was not available.
U.S. soldiers accompanying the Iraqis on the airport road said the Americans had just passed a traffic circle with the Iraqis behind them when assailants triggered the bomb.
"The hardcore terrorists don't care who they kill," said Lt. Col. Tim Ryan, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. "These guys are bigger targets than we are now."
Insurgents have hammered Iraqi security forces to discourage volunteers from bolstering security forces straining to create stability before the interim government assumes power June 30.
Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi appealed Sunday for international help for his beleaguered forces and said the government was considering "emergency law" in unspecified regions.
Such measures could be imposed on the Sunni stronghold of Fallujah, where an American airstrike Saturday leveled a building that U.S. officials said was a suspected safehouse for the network of al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian-born militant believed to be linked to Al Qaeda. At least 16 people were killed in the strike.
A senior officer of the U.S.-backed Fallujah Brigade disputed the American contention, saying Sunday that rescue operations uncovered only the belongings of women and children.
"Through our inspection in the ruins, we could see clothes and stuff of women and children," Col. Mohammed Awad said. "There was no sign that foreigners have lived in the house."
Fallujah Mayor Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Juraisi met Sunday with local leaders and assured them he would sever relations with the Americans because of the airstrike, according to an official, Ahmed al-Dulaimi.
The difference in U.S. and Iraqi assessments of the attack could strain relations between the Americans and the Iraqi security force established last month to take responsibility for law and order in Fallujah after the end of the three-week Marine siege.
The video of the South Korean hostage came two days after news of the beheading of American hostage Paul Johnson by Al Qaeda-linked militants in Saudi Arabia.
As part of Iraq's restructuring, Allawi announced creation of a ministerial-level committee for national security, including the ministers of defense, interior, foreign, justice, and finance. He also announced establishment of a Center for Joint Operations "to control all activities related to national security."
Afterward, Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib told The Associated Press that the government was also considering an amnesty for insurgents who were not personally involved in killings.
Allawi's comments at a news conference came amid a surge of bloody attacks that has been rising as the countdown to handover draws near.
Most of the victims have been poor Iraqis willing to take dangerous jobs in the Iraqi security forces because of few opportunities elsewhere; unemployment in Iraq is up to 45 percent. More than 300 people have been killed in attacks on police stations and recruitment centers since September.