The vehicle was destroyed when an explosive device blew up on a road 35km west of Kirkuk late on Tuesday, according to police and witnesses.

The oil-rich city itself was rocked by a series of explosions.

A mortar bomb was fired against a building used by US troops and local police without causing casualties, according to a local emergency police commander.

Another three bombs were fired at a US position in Kirkuk, said the local official.

The attacks came hours after a blast struck the offices of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) in Kirkuk, killing an employee and wounding a second.

Meanwhile, a huge blast was heard late on Tuesday near the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, reported Aljazeera's correspondent.

A landmine detonated near the embassy, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

More protests

Also in the capital thousands of Shia Iraqi militiamen demonstrated outside a Baghdad mosque under the nervous gaze of occupation troops to protest the arrest of two clerics.

The militiamen are members of anti-occupation cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

Shia Iraqis chant anti-US slogans
during a Baghdad protest

A US army official said the two clerics were arrested on Monday for "conducting criminal and anti-coalition acts" without elaborating.

US Brigadier General Martin Dempsey warned protest leaders to keep demonstrators in check.

"You have to control your people and I have to control my people. It is more important for the people to know how to think than how to march," said Dempsey.

This was the second consecutive day Shia Iraqis protested for the release of the clerics. On Tuesday they warned that they would take up arms.

Occupation forces in Iraq come under daily attacks from resistance fighters.

However, Shia religious authorities have ordered worshippers to carry out only peaceful resistance.