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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
US marines killed in Iraq ambush
US soldiers examine the site of the attack on the outskirts of Falluja
The ambush may be the single deadliest on US forces in months
Seven US marines and three Iraqi soldiers have been killed by a car bomb on the outskirts of Falluja in Iraq, the US military says.

The ambush on the military convoy was the single deadliest strike on US forces since May.

Falluja, 65km (40 miles) west of Baghdad, has witnessed some of the strongest resistance to US-led forces.

US troops have not patrolled inside the city since April after a three-week siege there in which hundreds died.

The US military has launched several air strikes on suspected insurgents in the city in the past few months, with reports of many Iraqi casualties.

The attack took place at Saqlawiya, some 15 km (nine miles) north of Falluja.

"The vehicle-borne improvised explosive device which killed both Iraqi National Guard personnel and marines was detonated late this morning near Falluja," a US military statement said.

"The explosion killed seven marines who were assigned to 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and three Iraqi National Guard soldiers."

A military official told the Associated Press that the strength of the blast sent the engine from the vehicle used in the bombing flying "a good distance" from the site.

The deaths raise to at least 985 the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq since the US-led forces invaded the country in March 2003.

Record number of wounded

Meanwhile, a report says that the number of US soldiers injured in Iraq in August is the highest since the war began.

About 1,100 soldiers and marines are thought to have been wounded last month.

Intense fighting in the city of Najaf last month is partly to blame for the high toll, the Washington Post newspaper suggests.

The number of fatalities among US troops was 66, the highest since May, but considerably lower than the 135 combat deaths recorded in April.

There are no official figures available for the number of Iraqi insurgents and civilians killed or hurt.

The BBC's Paul Wood
"Witnesses said the car's engine was sent flying through the air by the force of the blast"

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