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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
US soldiers killed in Iraq attacks
Three US soldiers have been killed in two separate bomb attacks in Iraq, US military officials have said.

In the first attack on Monday night, two soldiers and their Iraqi translator died and several were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded south of Baghdad, a statement from US Central Command said.

An hour earlier, one US soldier was killed and another wounded in a separate bomb attack west of the Iraqi capital.

News of the attacks emerged on Tuesday - when a blast hit the Iraqi foreign ministry in Baghdad.

There were no casualties.

The attack was one of several in recent weeks against so-called "soft targets" - political and civilian buildings - in Baghdad.

'Saddam loyalists' blamed

Iraqi officials said the explosion was caused by a projectile - either a mortar or a rocket-propelled grenade - which fell within the compound, however US military officials said they have not ruled out a bomb as the cause of the explosion.

One witness told Reuters news agency he saw a "ball of fire" before employees began rushing from the building.

Iraqi officials said the blast had created a large hole in the ground and shattered several windows of the ministry building - located not far from the headquarters of the US-backed provisional authority.

Head of foreign affairs in the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Hoshyar Zebari, told the BBC the blast in Baghdad was an attempt by former member's of Saddam Hussein's regime to intimidate and scare people from doing their work.

Mr Zebari added that although he was confident of security around the building it was not possible to prevent entirely such attacks.

"We have our own... security arrangements and we are going about our work very confidently, but it is difficult to control a mortar, let's say from a far distance," the minister told the World Update programme.

In August a suicide bombing outside the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad killed more than 20 people.

In September a bomb exploded outside an Iraq police headquarters in the city, killing one police officer and injuring several.

And only a few weeks later a blast in a hotel complex where US television network NBC has offices killed a Somali security guard.

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