Shaikh Talal Abd al-Karim al-Matar, the head of the Samarra tribal council and chief of the al-Sood, was taken away late on Monday night by US troops from his home in al-Muatasim, east of Samarra, said Lieutenant Colonel Mahmud Mohammed of Iraqi police on Tuesday.

The 30,000 strong al-Sood is one of the most powerful tribes in Samarra and several of its members have been detained by US troops, including Mullah Kamel al-Aswadi, allegedly linked to al-Qaida frontman in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. 

US troops arrested on 29 June Shaikh Daher Khamis al-Dhari, an influential Sunni Arab tribal leader from western Iraq, but released him the same day at the behest of Iraqi Vice-President Shaikh Ghazi al-Yawar, another tribal leader.

Kirkuk blast

On Tuesday, a car bomb exploded in the ethnically tense northern oil city of Kirkuk, killing at least three people and wounding 15, police said.

Kirkuk is located on one of the
richest oilfields in the Middle East

The car bomb went off in the industrial district as pedestrians were passing by, police Captain Farhad Talabani said.

Police said it did not appear to have been a human bomber and no group claimed responsibility.

Kirkuk, 290km north of Baghdad, is located on one of the richest oilfields in the Middle East and is home to Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen communities, each vying for power there.

Tal Afar explosion

An Iraqi civilian was killed and nine were wounded in a blast on Tuesday in Tal Afar, scene of ongoing clashes between armed fighters and US soldiers.

The blast in Tal Afar occurred after witnesses said someone placed a suspicious object in the trunk of a car and fled the scene, the US military said without elaboration.

Nearly 20 armed fighters have been killed since Sunday in Tal Afar during an operation by the US 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the US command said.

US soldier killed

US military convoys are often
targeted across Iraq

Elsewhere, a US soldier died of injuries he sustained when his patrol struck a land mine on Monday, south of Baghdad, the US military said on Tuesday.

Three other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Also on Tuesday, Iraqi police said they had initial reports of an explosion that struck a US military convoy in eastern Baghdad, damaging one Humvee. But the US military said it did not have any information on the report.

Other killings

In other incidents, Aljazeera on Tuesday learned that:

In Baghdad, armed men killed an Iraqi police officer who used to accompany the technical undersecretary for the Iraqi interior ministry. 
 
Armed men also killed Brigadier Amir Mozar, an officer in the criminal investigation department of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

In Beiji north of Baghdad armed men assassinated the liaison officer between the US army and the Iraqi police in the town.

An Iraqi policeman was killed and two others wounded in Baghdad when an explosive device blew up in the centre of the city. 

Explosives found

Iraqi troops, meanwhile, detonated about three tonnes of explosives found near oil fields in southern Iraq, a military spokesman said.

The explosives, including 1282 mines, 628 mortar rounds and 825 artillery shells, were discovered by Oil Protection Services who called the army to remove them, Captain Firas al-Tamimi said.

Al-Tamimi said the explosives were believed to have been planted by Saddam Hussein's forces after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait - possibly to prevent the oilfields from falling to US-led troops when they drove Iraqi troops from the emirate the following year.