The United States-led occupation forces recovered the remains of the two missing soldiers about 32 km northwest of Baghdad. “The bodies have been positively identified,” the US Central Command said in a statement.

 

A massive search, including Apache attack helicopters had been scouring the area around Balad since June 25. US troops had questioned at least six men, arrested in connection with the disappearance.

 

Soldier killed

 

On Friday night, one United States soldier was killed and four others were wounded in an attack in the northeast of Baghdad, while a US armoured vehicle was destroyed by anti-tank rockets in Falluja.

 

In an attack in central Ba’quba, northeast of Baghdad, an army interpreter was also wounded, a spokeswoman reported.

 

The soldiers were from a regiment of the First Armoured Division in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, she said.

   

Our correspondent, as well as a military officer said the incident was a grenade attack.

 

The latest deaths brings to 24 the number of US military personnel killed by Iraqi resistance fighters since President George W.Bush declared major combat over on 1 May.

 

Vehicle destroyed

 

In another attack at Falluja, two anti-tank rockets hit and burnt-out a US armoured vehicle on Friday night, witnesses told AFP on Saturday.

 

The attack occurred around midnight (2000 GMT Friday) in the town, 50 km west of Baghdad.

  

Ambulances took away the wounded, according to the witness who were unable to say how many were hurt, or of what nationality.

  

US troops quickly secured the area and kept people away. The armoured vehicle was loaded onto a crane-truck and removed from the scene.

  

Residents also said there was an explosion around 6:00 am (0200 GMT) on Saturday at the same location where the US vehicle had been attacked hours earlier.

  

The US military, while confirming the Ba’quba attack was unable to confirm the incidents in Falluja.  

 

Powell plea 

 

In the face of mounting casualties US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, on Friday called on Americans to be patient and understand the situation.

 

"I would say to the American people that we always recognized this would be a dangerous operation," Powell said in a media interview.

 

Powell said he hoped the mounting casualty toll would not increase pressure to withdraw US troops from Iraq prematurely.

  

Bush faces growing anger
in the US over Iraq

Reflecting growing anger against the US administration, about 1,000 demonstrators were shouting for US President George W Bush's impeachment outside a hotel in Los Angeles where the president was helping to raise funds for his re-election campaign.

  

The protesters accused Bush of lying about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. To date no such weapons have been found in the country.