Heavy fighting between U.S. troops and insurgents was also reported in the area, a known stronghold of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The fighting comes a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said large-scale operations were needed to regain control of rebel-held parts of Iraq. Rumsfeld referred to Samarra, retaken by coalition and Iraqi forces on 3 October after a two-day assault.
Rumsfeld's statement came after another day of violence in Iraq. At least 26 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in a series of car bomb attacks in Baghdad, and the northern town of Mosul.
On whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the war, Rumsfeld said ysterday in New York that intelligence about such weapons before the invasion was faulty. The comment appeared to contradict earlier Rumsfeld statements.
"It turns out that we have not found weapons of mass destruction. Does everyone know he had them at one point? Certainly. Does everyone believe -- even those in the UN who voted the other way -- [they] acknowledge the fact that he had filed a fraudulent declaration with the United Nations. And why the intelligence proved wrong, I am not in a position to say. I simply don't know," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld also said he has seen no strong evidence linking ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.
Several hours after his speech, Rumsfeld issued a statement from the Pentagon saying his comment on Al-Qaeda
and Hussein "regrettably was misunderstood." He said he has "acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between Al-Qaeda and Iraq. This assessment was based upon points provided to me by then CIA Director George Tenet to describe the CIA's understanding of the Al-Qaeda relationship," he said. This included "solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al-Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad."
In Iraq today, the U.S. military said a soldier was killed and two others were wounded by a roadside bomb at a supply depot in Balad, about 60 kilometers north of Baghdad.
(AP/Reuters/dpa)For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".For the latest news on the U.S.-led War on Terror, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The War on Terror".