Saturday's attack occurred in Udaim, a volatile town just north of Baquba, about 60km north of Baghdad.

 

The soldiers were travelling in a five-vehicle patrol when a bomb went off nearby and then the vehicle came under fire from nearby.

 

Eleven soldiers were killed and two were wounded in the assault, which also destroyed four military vehicles. Two other people, possibly fighters, were also killed, the police said, and five civilians were wounded.

 

The attack came a day after the US military announced that 10 marines had been killed by a bomb near Falluja, west of Baghdad, as they patrolled on foot near a factory. 

 

Sectarian conflict

 

Baquba, a city with a mixed population of Sunni Arabs and Shia Muslims, is at the forefront of Iraq's worsening sectarian conflict.

 

Attacks have intensified in recent weeks in the run-up to elections set for 15 December, when millions of Iraqis are expected to vote for the first four-year parliament since Saddam Hussein was overthrown in 2003.