U.S. troops fought off two simultaneous attacks on military convoys Sunday in northern Iraq, killing 46 attackers, wounding 18 and capturing eight others, military officials said.
During the gunfights, U.S. tanks crushed makeshift barricades set up by the guerrillas and destroyed three buildings from which the Iraqi fighters were launching attacks.
Some of the attackers appeared to be wearing the black uniforms of the Fedayeen Saddam, a militia loyal to ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, said Master Sgt. Robert Cargie, a spokesman for the Army’s 4th Infantry Division.
The convoys carrying military supplies and Iraqi dinars came under attack in Samarra, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the Army’s 4th Infantry Division said.
“This was a coordinated, simultaneous attack,” Cargie said, with one convoy being attacked on the east side of the city and the other coming under fire while in the west side of Samarra.
Guerrillas set off improvised explosive devices as the convoys approached, then opened fire from nearby rooftops and alleyways with rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, Cargie said.
Troops from the 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment and U.S. military police responded with a barrage of cannon fire from tanks and armored personnel carriers, Cargie said.
When the attackers put up a makeshift barricade in an attempt to block one convoy, U.S. armor steamrolled over it, he said.
Five U.S. soldiers were wounded in the simultaneous ambushes, which took place about 1:30 p.m. Sunday (5:30 a.m. EST). Three were hospitalized, but none suffered life-threatening wounds.
Less than an hour later, in a third attack in Samarra, four men in a black BMW fired rifles at members of a U.S. combat engineering battalion. The soldiers returned fire, wounding and capturing the men, Cargie said.
He added that two rifles and two rocket-propelled grenade launchers were found in the car. No further details were available on that attack.
The battles come at the end of a month that has proved the deadliest for coalition forces since the war began, and at the end of a weekend in which 15 people have been killed in attacks on troops, diplomats, agents and contractors from countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
Despite the attacks on both military and civilian targets, U.S. and coalition officials reiterated their determination to stay in Iraq.