The rockets caused a fire at the police station in the Al-Tamim area of the town, which lies to the west of Baghdad on Friday, a witness told French news agency AFP.

An exchange of fire between police and the unknown attackers ensued. The witness could not say whether there were any casualties.

On Thursday, an American patrol came under similar rocket fire in the centre of Ramadi, injuring two soldiers.

Iraqi forces to swell

The news came amid pedges from the US-led occupation force to double the number of Iraqi security forces in a bid to take the pressure off its exhausted troops.

Paul Bremer, the US occupation overseer in Iraq, said on Friday, "It would be realistic to say in a year we would have 90,000 to 100,000 Iraqis" under arms.

That would include a 15,000-member army, as many as 25,000 border guards, and a police force that would fall just short of 75,000, he said at a press conference with Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top US commander in Iraq.

At present, there are about 55,000 Iraqis in the security forces, mainly the police.

The move to rapidly put an Iraqi face on what until now has been a US-dominated post-war occupation has come amid growing alarm in the United States over steadily rising US casualties, bombings and a sense of slipping control over the country.

Britain beefs up

"I don't need any more forces here. There is no tactical threat, there is no strategic or operational threats to the coalition, to Americans"

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez,
US commander in Iraq
 

The UK defence ministry has said that an additional 120 troops will be sent to Iraq this weekend to beef up its military contingent in the lawless and shattered country.

The decision could mark the start of an even greater reinforcement of Britain's military force in Iraq, which currently numbers 10,500 troops and is based mainly in the south of the country.

"One hundred and twenty troops from the Second Light Infantry will be sent this weekend. They are currently based in Cyprus," a ministry spokesman said.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has ordered a review of the troop levels required to support British operations in the country amid persistent attacks against US and British occupation forces.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper also reported on Thursday that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was pressing for 5,000 extra British troops to be sent to Iraq to avert "strategic failure" of the occupation.

Donald Rumsfeld, currently touring Iraq, revealed on Thursday that "maybe another division" would be needed, to complement the 140,000 troops already on the ground.

Rose-coloured glasses

During his stops around the country, including ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's place which is now the 4th Infantry Division's headquarters in Tikrit, Rumsfeld highlighted the progress that has been made and bristled at suggestions he was painting too rosy a picture of the situation here.

Rumsfeld says that all is well

"To constantly suggest there are rose-coloured glasses where everything is going well is just utter nonsense," he said.

Eleven British and 67 US troops have been killed in resistance attacks in Iraq since US President George Bush declared on 1 May that major combat operations in the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein were over.

Sanchez said attacks around the country have gone down slightly to around 14 or 15 a day, but he said the nature of the threat was not one that required more US forces on the ground.

"I don't need any more forces here. There is no tactical threat, there is no strategic or operational threats to the coalition, to Americans," he said.

Sanchez said it was not known who carried out last month's car bomings at the Jordanian embassy, UN headquarters in Baghdad, and at an important Shia shrine in the southern city of Najaf.

Tip-offs

But he viewed the attacks, which have left key leaders and scores of others dead, as "a natural evolution of the threats that we are facing over time."

"Increasingly the threat has been getting a little bit more sophisticated over time," he said, adding that foreign fighters could be working with remnants of the Baathist regime.

Lebanese Hizb Allah guerrillas were among the foreign groups now operating inside the country, Sanchez told reporters later. 

Sanchez said a reflection of the progress is that Iraqis are coming forward with more tip-offs.

In the US Army's 4th Infantry Divisions area around Tikrit, he said there have been cases where Iraqis have killed people they suspect of attacking US forces.

"They dropped the bodies off in front so we would find them," he said.