"One US soldier was killed today at 4:30 pm (13:30 GMT) near Mahmudiyah by an IED (improvised explosive device) explosion," a US military spokesman said on Sunday. 

"The IED was discovered in the middle of the road," some 30 kms from Baghdad," he added.

Also, it was announced on Sunday that three people were killed and eight wounded in a bomb attack outside the Baghdad offices of Iraq's deputy police chief.

A homemade bomb, believed to have been planted by a night-shift security guard, blew up at 9:20 am (06:20 GMT) on Saturday, a US spokeswoman told reporters. 

"Three were killed and eight injured. The deputy police chief suffered burn injuries," the spokeswoman said, giving no further details. 

She added that the security guard had gone on the run.

Iraqi officer killed

Also on Sunday, Iraqi police said US forces killed a uniformed Iraqi officer as he was returning home from work in the central town of Tikrit. 

A US military spokesman in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown where there is strong resistance to the US occupation, said the US soldiers were returning fire after being attacked. 

Tikrit police chief Colonel Usama Abd al-Ghafar said Major Abd al-Rahman Inad Khalaf was killed on Saturday night. 

"Last night at 9:00 pm (18:00 GMT), a member of our police force came under fire from US forces which led to his death when he was wearing his official uniform," he told Reuters Television. 

"His brother was injured, as was another man. Our police
force is investigating...There is no obvious reason for this to
have happened." 

Looking for suspects

"He was just coming home from his duty. US troops had mounted some kind of ambush in the area, I do not know why. He got out of his car and was surprised when they started shooting."

Sheikh Hamid Iqab al-Dulaimi,
A senior official in the killed officer's tribe

US spokesman Master Sergeant Robert Cargie said soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division were staking out a house in Tikrit's Qadisiya district, looking for suspects in earlier rocket attacks, when they were shot at with automatic weapons. 

The US soldiers returned fire and threw a hand grenade, killing one man and injuring two others. 

"At one point after the wounded were taken care of, it was learned that the attacker who was killed was an Iraqi police major," Cargie said. 

A senior official in Khalaf's tribe, Sheikh Hamid Iqab al-Dulaimi, said Khalaf had just reached home when US troops opened fire. 

"He was just coming home from his duty," he said. "US troops had mounted some kind of ambush in the area, I do not know why. He got out of his car and was surprised when they started shooting. 

"His brother went outside, and they shot at him too. He was wounded. They took him and left, and later they came back and took off (Khalaf's) clothes and left him naked in the street." 

Cargie said US troops arrested two other men and confiscated two AK-47 assault rifles, he said.

Patrol hit

Also on Sunday, a US patrol was hit by a homemade bomb on the main expressway that cuts through the Iraqi capital, north to south, police said.

The improvised explosive device detonated at 1:30 pm (10:30 GMT) at the northern entrance to the expressway, police sources told AFP. 

The US military had no immediate confirmation of the report. 

Royal visit

Prince Charles (R) meets Iraqi staff
working at a Basra military base

Later on the same day, Prince Charles paid a surprise morale-boosting visit to British troops in Iraq, and spoke to local officials about their concerns over the country's future. 

Amid heightened security, Charles arrived on a Chinook helicopter at a British base that was one of Saddam Hussein's lavish palaces, shaking hands with soldiers and officials of the US-led civil administration. 

During the nearly six-hour trip, he listened to prominent
Iraqi officials discuss a wide range of political and economic
problems plaguing postwar Iraq. 

At one stage, gunshots rang out from a neighbourhood near
the base in the southern port city of Basra, underscoring Iraq's precarious security situation. 

It was a rare visit by a British royal to the country that
won independence from Britain in 1932. Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Basra last month. 

News of the prince's visit was embargoed until he left the
country.