FALLUJAH, Iraq (CNN) — U.S. Marines on Monday closed all roads into Fallujah, the site of last week’s slayings of four U.S. civilian contractors and the horrific mutilations of their bodies. The Marines engaged in firefights inside and around the city, sources there said.
One Marine was killed in the fighting, according to the Coalition Press Information Center.
At least seven Iraqis were killed Monday morning in several incidents, sources in the city said.
Witnesses in Haye Al-Jolan, an area in the northern section of Fallujah, said five Iraqis were killed and 15 wounded in a firefight that began when Marines raided homes there. They said ten homes were destroyed in the battle.
In another area, U.S. Marines fired on two vehicles — a truck and a car — approaching a Fallujah checkpoint Monday morning, killing two Iraqis, sources said.
“Operation Vigilant Resolve” began early Monday when Marines set up checkpoints on all roads into and out of Fallujah, a Marine spokesman said.
The Marines are only letting cars with Fallujah license plates through the checkpoints, military sources said.
The operation may unfold slowly over several days and the Marines may not attempt to control the center of the town, military sources said.
“Our concern is precise,” Said Lt. James Vanzant, a Marine spokesman. “We want to get the guys we are after. We don’t want to go in there with guns blazing.”
Fallujah’s Mayor set a 7 p.m. curfew and banned demonstrations and weapons, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps said Monday.
The U.S. Consul in Baghdad said Monday the two main highways between the Iraqi capital and Jordan — Highways 1 and 10 — have been closed indefinitely because of military operations in the area, which includes Fallujah.
Last week, four U.S. civilian contractors working as armed guards were killed in an insurgent grenade attack in Fallujah.
An Iraqi mob mutilated their bodies, dragged the charred corpses from the burning vehicles and hanged at least two of them from the iron work above a Euphrates river bridge.
U.S. authorities said they will punish those responsible.
Fallujah is part of al Anbar province in the Sunni Triangle, a region north and west of Baghdad that has been a hotbed of opposition to the U.S. presence.