BAGHDAD, Iraq – Attackers laying in wait for Iraqi troops detonated a roadside bomb on the dangerous road leading to Baghdad's airport on Sunday, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding 11 others.
American troops took the Iraqi wounded to a U.S. aid station and waited with them while they were treated. Iraqi soldiers wept and hugged their U.S. comrades.
Also Sunday, U.S. forces clashed with insurgents in Samarra, striking back with helicopter gunships after guerrillas fired mortars into a residential neighborhood. U.S. 1st Infantry Division (search) spokesman Maj. Neal O'Brien said at least four insurgents were killed.
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 (search) and Fallujah (search). A mortar round also injured six police officers and four Iraqis in a separate attack Sunday near the Iraqi central bank in the heart of Baghdad.
Late Sunday, shooting broke out behind the Palestine Hotel (search), headquarters of several international news organizations. Hotel guards returned fire, and U.S. troops manned positions on the blast walls around the compound near the circle where Saddam Hussein's (search) statue was hauled down in April 2003.
In southern Iraq, 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 oil exports would resume Sunday and had said repairs on the smaller of the two key oil arteries had been completed. But coalition spokesman Dominic D'Angelo said those claims were inaccurate, and that an estimate of when partial exports could resume was not available.
U.S. soldiers accompanying the Iraqis on the often-attacked airport road said the Americans had just passed a traffic circle with the Iraqis behind them when assailants set off 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.
Struggling to counter the mounting violence, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (search) appealed Sunday for international help for his beleaguered forces and said the government was considering "emergency law" in certain, unspecified regions to bring the situation under control.
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 Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search). 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. 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.
Allawi said such strikes were "welcome" attacks against terrorists "anywhere in Iraq" but added that he was told only a short time beforehand. "This pattern will change" after the handover of power, he said.
However, the Iraqis need support to fight back, and Allawi appealed for assistance until Iraqi forces "are fully capable."
"We will continue to need support from our friends," Allawi told reporters in Baghdad.
As part of the 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.