A spokesman for the US Army's 4th Infantry Division gave no other details of the ambush in the hometown of ousted president Saddam Hussein.

But the death follows that of another soldier earlier on Sunday after his vehicle struck a landmine near the central town of Baiji, about 220km northwest of Baghdad. 

Arrests

In the face of strengthening resistance, US-led occupation forces said they had arrested several people in connection with the deadly bomb blast at a central Baghdad hotel on Sunday.

Military spokesman, Charles Heatley, was not prepared to give details when questioned by Aljazeera.net, but in an earlier statement confirmed that some arrests had already been made in connection to the car bombing.

At least six people, and the driver, died in the car bombing outside the Baghdad Hotel, where a number of US officials, including CIA agents, and Iraqi Governing Council members live.

The attack today brought to 96 the number of US soldiers killed in action in Iraq since President George Bush declared major combat over on 1 May. Many more have died in incidents the US calls non-combat related. 

Iraqi deaths

Central Iraq is continuing to be a thorn in the side of US-led forces.

An Iraqi was killed and three others wounded on Monday in a firefight with US forces near the town of Baquba.

The shootout occurred after US troops arrested 20 people during a house-to-house search in the village of Zagania, said police officer, Taha Abd al-Qadir.

He said the Americans removed the body of the man killed in the firefight.

The officer also said a policeman was among the three wounded.

Situated in the Diyala province, 65km northeast of Baghdad, Baquba is the site of frequent attacks on US troops occupying Iraq.

Assassination attempt

In a separate incident on Monday, the governor of Iraq's Diyala province, Dr Abd Allah al-Jaburi, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

A roadside bomb exploded, seriously wounding two policemen and lightly injuring a civilian, a local police officer said.

The attacks dealt a further blow to Bush, who is trying to

bolster support for his invasion of Iraq by highlighting postwar

successes.

 

Polls show his popularity plummeting as the cost of the war in lives and money mounts.

   

Washington is pushing for a new UN Security Council resolution, giving the United Nations a broader mandate to try to persuade reluctant countries to help in stabilising Iraq.

US forces also arrested the imam of the Great Mosque of Falluja, another flashpoint town in central Iraq.

Military officials said they detained 61-year-old Shaikh Jamal Nizzal after a search overnight on Monday of the mosque premises.

A neighbour told AFP that four students of the shaikh were also arrested in the search.

Nizzal has frequently urged his flock not to cooperate with US-led occupation forces.