The fresh attacks happened after a short reprieve earlier on Saturday which saw the pounding of the city, hospital officials told Aljazeera.

The US military statement said an airstrike targeted at about 1800 GMT "terrorists meeting in the Jolan district of Falluja."

"Intelligence sources indicated that approximately 10 terrorists were meeting at this location to plan operations targeting innocent Iraqi civilians and multi-national forces," said the statement.

Earlier in the day Dr Dhiya al-Jumaili of Falluja General Hospital said at least eight people were killed and 15 wounded this, including women and children.

Explosions lit up the night sky for hours and at least two buildings in the city centre were completely wrecked, witnesses said. The Falluja mosque switched on its loudspeakers and clerics recited prayers to rally the city's residents.

The US military said it had carried out a "precision strike" on a building where supporters loyal to "al-Qaida-linked" Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were believed to be meeting.

Reuters quotes the US military as saying: "There were no innocent civilians reported in the immediate area at the time of the strike. Multinational forces took multiple measures to minimise collateral damage and civilian casualties."

Survivors

Reuters Television pictures showed rescuers pulling survivors out of the ruins of a destroyed house. Two women and one young child were among those rescued from the rubble.

Aljazeera reported a US military spokesman saying the artillery shelling targeted armed men driving in a car transporting military hardware. The car, however, was not damaged.

American forces also bombed a series of fortifications late on Friday, including concrete and earthen barriers and roadblocks used to restrict movement in the city and mount attacks on marine positions outside Falluja, the military said in a separate statement on Saturday.

Saturday's strikes were the latest in a string of attacks against the city that had left scores dead and injured.

Police, soldiers killed 

US army says it targeted Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi supporters

Meanwhile, five volunteer members of the Iraqi National Guard were killed and a number of people were injured when a  gunman opened fire on a bus in al-Rabi street in Baghdad, medical sources told Aljazeera.
 
The sources noted that the volunteers were in civilian uniforms when the attack occurred.

Three US marines were killed in action in Iraq on Friday in two unrelated attacks west of Baghdad, the American military said on Saturday.

US marines are based in the Anbar province, which includes the towns of Falluja and Ramadi.

Another US soldier was killed in Baghdad after his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, the US military said.

Sadr City fighting

In other violence on Saturday a US aircraft bombed an area in Sadr City, injuring several people including children, locals claimed.

At least five injured people were seen lying in hospital beds, and shops in the area were damaged.

Sadr City, the stronghold of Iraqis loyal to Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, has recently witnessed violent clashes between US troops and militiamen loyal to al-Sadr.

Several militiamen are believed to have been killed in the fighting.

Basra blast

In Basra a roadside bomb was detonated after a British military patrol passed through the al-Qibla neighbourhood, east of the southern Iraqi port of Basra, a British spokesman told Aljazeera.

There were no injuries or damage, but British forces closed the area and searched for other explosive devices. 

File photo of the Iraqi Oil Ministry
office which was hit on Saturday

In Baquba, a police captain Salman Turki al-Shamari was killed in a drive-shooting by three masked gunmen on Saturday, police sources said.

The driver of the taxi al-Shamari was driving at the time of the attack was also seriously injured.

The police officer was on his way to al-Nasir police station in Zahra neighbourhood four kilometres north of Baquba

US convoy attacked

In a separate development, a  roadside bomb explosion destroyed a US Hummer vehicle in BaqubaThe fate of the US soldiers riding the vehicle, which was part of a military convoy, is still unknown. 

Also on Saturday, the Iraqi Oil Ministry building in Baghdad was hit by one rocket and three mortar rounds, but no human losses were reported, official sources said.

 

One of the employees said the attack caused minor damage, but no injuries. At least three more rounds fell on a residential district on Palestine Street.
 

Meanwhile, the headquarters of the National Conciliation Movement led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, in the al-Hilla city, south of Baghdad, was hit by a mortar round when the Consul of the US Consulate in al-Hilla, Burns Blaski, was inside the building, Iraqi police sources told Aljazeera.

 

The sources said the attack caused no damage or injuries.

 

Also, two employees working at the office of Abd Al-Aziz Al-Hakim, head of the Higher Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, were killed in  Baghdad when unknown gunmen opened fire while they were travelling from Najaf to Baghdad, a source at the office told Aljazeera.