The target of the explosion was the deputy governor of the northern Diyala province Aqil al-Hamid, who was in a convoy driving near the city of Baquba. He escaped uninjured.

Al-Hamid told AFP that the explosion on Monday morning narrowly missed the vehicle he was travelling in. One civilian was killed.

The attempt on al-Hamid's life was the second in under two weeks.

''The explosion seems to be a remote controlled device and it failed to hit my car which was protected by a large truck that happened to pass by.''

The injured, including a policeman, were taken to a local hospital.

Mortar attacks

Iraqi police confirmed that six mortars had been fired onto a neighbourhood in Kirkuk, north of Baghdad early on Monday morning. The neighbourhood is reported to be near a US army base.

Aidan Izz al-Din, 54, was killed instantly when a mortar slammed onto his house.

Eight other civilians were wounded when a second mortar hit a house near a UN office.

Four other missiles were fired near a police station, two bridges and a hotel which usually houses Turkish business people.

Defiant

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has vowed that his country will stay in Iraq, despite the loss of 19 Americans in resistance attacks on Sunday.

Donald Rumsfeld has said US is
determined to stay on in Iraq 

In the heaviest losses inflicted on the US in any one day since the invasion of Iraq, 16 soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded when a Chinook helicopter carrying troops to Baghdad was downed near Falluja.

The US military said that the aircraft had been shot out of the sky, probably by a surface to air missile.

In a separate incident, a roadside bomb in Falluja killed two American civilian contractors working for the occupation administration, while a bomb in Baghdad killed one soldier.

Casualties

More than 200 American soldiers have been killed since president Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq on 1 May, more than the number killed during the war.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war could be as high as 10,000, according to Iraq Body Count (IBC), an Anglo-American volunteer group that has compiled statistics on civilian casualties.

Researchers have visited hospitals and mortuaries in the country and interviewed relatives of the dead.

John Sloboda, professor of psychology at Keele University and an IBC report author, said: ''The totality is now producing an unassailable sense that there were a hell of a lot of civilian deaths in Iraq."

Resistance

Many Iraqi civilians in Falluja have welcomed the attacks on troops, promising that resistance to the occupation will continue until the US pulls out troops from Iraq.

''This was a new lesson from the resistance, a lesson to the greedy aggressors,'' said one local.

The Americans say most of the carnage in the past week has been orchestrated by foreign fighters who have come into Iraq to wage war against their troops.

Paul Bremmer, head of the US-led occupation authority, admitted that the situation was ''getting much worse''.

Pentagon pressure

The US media are being pressured by the Pentagon not to photograph and film the coffins of dead soldiers returning home.

The American government has launched an offensive against sections of the media, complaining that they are only interested in reporting the bad news from Iraq, choosing to ignore their troops' successes.

A news organisation complained about American forces trying to seize its footage from the helicopter attack on Sunday.