From AP and AFP
January 05, 2004
Four American soldiers died at the hands of Iraqi insurgents at the weekend, pushing the US death toll since the war started last March closer to the 500 mark.
Insurgents hit a US military base north of Baghdad with mortar shells on Saturday, killing one soldier and wounding two others. Later the same day, rebels set off a bomb and opened fire on a US convoy in the capital, killing two soldiers and wounding three.
A day earlier, a US Army helicopter was shot down near the town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding another.
The latest casualties take the US death toll to 483. The British military has reported 52 deaths, Italy 17, Spain eight, Bulgaria five, Thailand two and Denmark, Ukraine and Poland one each.
As US forces stepped up their operation against the insurgents, there were conflicting reports that four Iraqis, including a woman and a child, were killed when troops opened fire on their car in the northern town of Tikrit.
"The car, a grey Chevrolet Caprice, was hit by 27 shots and skidded, resulting in the death of four people, including a woman and a nine-year-old child," Tikrit police chief Ussama Adham Abdel Ghaffer said. But Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Russell, head of the US 4th Infantry Division battalion that patrols the area, said he was aware of a shooting involving a civilian car but that his men were not involved.