In the first attack late on Tuesday, US jets fired several missiles on Falluja, killing four people and wounding 11 others. A hospital spokesman said that a child and an elderly man were among the dead.

Early on Wednesday, US jets struck again, killing two Iraqis.

Aljazeera reported that dozens of Iraqi civilians were among those wounded and killed in the latest air strike. Local hospitals were overwhelmed with women and children seeking medical assistance and refuge.

The strikes mainly concentrated on the Shuhada (martyrs) quarters and the industrial area, where three factories, several businesses and houses were destroyed, an Iraqi journalist in Falluja told Aljazeera.

The journalist also said that although the situation in the city was now calm, US forces were still stationed in the western part of town, particularly in the districts of Halabaja and Amiriyya.

All roads leading into those areas have been cordoned off and cars are being searched.

Families fleeing

Families in the affected areas as well as the Nazal neighbourhood have fled their homes, the journalist said.

A child and an elderly man were
among those killed

During the bombardment, no ambulance or medical team could reach the targeted areas to evacuate the casualties.

The journalist added that there are unconfirmed reports that a plane was downed near the city's western entrance and a US military vehicle was also damaged.

The US military frequently launches air strikes on Falluja, saying it is a centre of resistance to the US-backed government in Iraq.

Helicopter crash

A US helicopter meanwhile has crashed in western Iraq and its four crew members were rescued from the site.

A US military statement said none of the crew had suffered life threatening injuries and the cause of the crash was being investigated.

There was, however, no official word on what type of helicopter had gone down.

Governor abducted

Also, armed men abducted the US-appointed deputy governor of Anbar province on Wednesday, relatives of the official said.
 
Several masked men stormed the house of Bassim Muhammad Munajid in the town of Falluja and took him away around mid-morning, the relatives said.

The mostly Sunni Muslim province of Anbar, west of Baghdad, reportedly became a centre of anti-US fighting after the American-led invasion of Iraq. US planes have bombed targets in the region for days, killing scores of people.

Armed groups who oppose the US-appointed interim government have increasingly targeted officials for assassination or kidnapping.

Baghdad's mayor survived an assassination attempt on Tuesday, the same day the son of the governor of the northern province of Mosul was killed.