3 Iraqi policemen killed in attack

story.baghdad.ap.gifFive civilians were also wounded in the attack, police said.

The attack began at 10:45 a.m. when gunmen opened fire on police in the market, police said. Officers who responded to the call for back up were then hit by two roadside bombs, police said.

When it was over, three Iraqi police officers were dead and 10 people were wounded, including five officers, police said.

Baquba is located 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Baghdad.

Meanwhile the U.S. military said Saturday a U.S. soldier was killed when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad.

No other details were immediately available.

Another soldier died from a “non-combat related injury” Thursday and military investigators are looking into the incident, the U.S. military said Saturday.

The soldier, whose name has not been released, was assigned to the 43rd Military Police Brigade, part of the Rhode Island Army National Guard, the military said.

The number of U.S. military fatalities in the Iraq war now stands at 2,560.

Also Saturday Iraq’s prime minister, whose country is mired in Sunni-Shiite sectarian fighting and a relentless insurgent violence, said he wanted to put another conflict on his busy agenda next week when he meets with the Bush administration and other officials — Lebanon.

Nuri al-Maliki — who spoke to reporters in a press conference after the first meeting of the Higher Commission for Dialogue and National Reconciliation — said he would discuss the conflict with the United Nations and the U.S. government during his trip.

Al-Maliki said he would urge the speeding up of a cease-fire and the implementation of International resolutions.

“We have a new and dangerous issue: the military and security situation that came as a result of the Israeli attacks and raids on Lebanon and the destruction of infrastructure and the bombing of water, electricity and airports and what the Lebanese people are living and how it could affect the situation in the region,” al-Maliki said.

Al-Maliki, noting that the trip had been planned for some time, said the Iraqi delegation would be focused on the importance of building of Iraqi security forces and security that “would lead to reconstruction, rebuilding and services.”

But al-Maliki’s comments on Lebanon reflect the political complexities and priorities in the region.

Al-Maliki’s government is an ally of the United States and relies on U.S. security for its existence.

However, his words on the conflict in Lebanon are at odds with the Bush administration’s support of Israel’s fight against the Hezbollah guerrilla network in Lebanon.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite who had been in exile in Syria during the Saddam Hussein era, represents a government dominated by Shiites, who number 60 percent of Iraqis.

Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim movement and it has support across the Shiite world, including the huge Shiite population in Iraq.

Some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, have questioned the wisdom of Hezbollah’s raid into Israel that sparked the Israeli offensive in Lebanon. They are largely Sunni nations.

But al-Maliki joins other leaders across the Muslim world — both Shiite and Sunni — who have solely laid the blame on Israel in the conflict.

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