Police and security officials said three Iraqis and four Americans suffered injuries when two rockets hit the NOC cultural and social club at dinner time on Saturday.

The club is used as a canteen by the Americans and employees of the US company Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) a subsidiary of US oil services giant Halliburton, which has netted a controversial US government contract to help rebuild Iraq's shattered oil industry.

Halliburton was run by US Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000.

Police officer Salam Jalal confirmed it was the first attack to target the building.

Halliburton was run by US Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000.

NOC director general Adel Kazzaz confirmed the report, saying there were "victims" from the attack.

US officials could not immediately confirm the casualties.

Heavily protected

Mike McAleer, spokesman from the Restore Iraqi Oil team, said there had been an explosion but doubted it was caused by a rocket attack.

The NOC club is situated within a zone of Kirkuk, a northern Iraqi oil city, that is heavily protected by an Iraqi security service trained by a South African private company.

The NOC club is heavily protected by an Iraqi security service trained by a South African private company

After the attack US troops were deployed in force in Kirkuk, stopping anyone who approached the area.

Kirkuk police chief Torhan Yussef said he was turned back from going to the NOC by US soldiers.

The southern edge of the city also came under artillery bombardment on Saturday night. The area most affected was the road leading to Tikrit, the hometown of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

Apparent drowning

In another incident a US soldier died in an apparent drowning when his vehicle slid into a canal.

A US military spokesman said the incident happened on Friday at 9:15 pm (1815 GMT) but gave no further details. He said the soldier was from the 4th Infantry Division deployed east and north of Baghdad.