Tikrit, Iraq; 17 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military says three American soldiers and two Iraqi civil defense troopers were killed today when a roadside bomb exploded next to their patrol.
The blast occurred when an armored personnel carrier struck an explosive device on a road near Taji, some 30 kilometers north of Baghdad. The vehicle caught fire, killing the Americans and Iraqis inside, who were on joint patrol.
The latest deaths bring to 500 the total number of American soldiers who have died since the Iraq war began on 20 March 2003.
In the United States, meanwhile, the top civil administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, has met with President George W. Bush to discuss the transfer of power in Iraq. He is scheduled to hold talks at the United Nations in New York on 19 January, accompanied by members of the U.S.-led Iraqi Governing Council. Bremer said he will urge the United Nations to return to the country.
Disagreement centers on the method of the sovereignty transfer. Iraq's majority Shi'ites want direct elections while the U.S. administration wants to select the new Iraqi authorities indirectly.