Witnesses said armed fighters were battling Iraqi police, and explosions and heavy gunfire were echoing through Baquba's streets on Monday.

An Iraqi journalist told Aljazeera that five vehicles belonging to the Iraqi police were burned out in different parts of the city. A police station was also attacked.

The US military said armed fighters opened fire on Iraqi police from inside a mosque in Baquba and police forces then stormed and cleared out the mosque. A weapons cache, including rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, was uncovered inside, US command said.

Firefights also erupted just south of Baquba in the town of Buhriz, as anti-US fighters attacked some police stations and a nearby US base, residents said. The two cities are located north-east of Baghdad.

Clashes between armed assailants and Iraqi security forces early on Monday south of Baghdad killed seven Iraqi police and national guardsmen and injured five others, police said.

Attacks elsewhere

Gunmen carried out near-simultaneous attacks on a police station and an Iraqi National Guard headquarters in Suwayra, about 40km south of Baghdad, police said. Two from the police and five national guardsmen were killed.

Iraqi policemen are regularly
targeted in attacks

The dead included Major Hadi Rafaidi, the director of the Suwayra police station.

Before the clashes, National Guardsmen opened fire at a car approaching their headquarters, killing the driver. The car was loaded with explosives, it was later discovered.

In the city of Ramadi, 112km west of the capital, heavy fighting erupted on Monday between anti-US fighters and American forces, residents said.

North of Ramadi, a US convoy came under attack near the town of al-Baghdadi, with one Humvee destroyed, according to an al-Baghdadi police officer, Lieutenant Muhammad Abd al-Karim.

There was no confirmation from the US military about the incident.