The US military said that one more soldier was wounded in the blast, which hit a patrol that was on a mission to clear a route of threats such as roadside bombs, the biggest killer of US troops in Iraq.
 
US statement
 
"Recently the unit has successfully found roadside bombs in the area, securing them so that explosive ordnance teams can arrive and recover the improvised explosive devices," the US statement said.
 
The US death toll in Iraq reached 2,975 when
three soldiers died in a roadside blast [AFP]
At least 2,975 US soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion in March 2003.

In a separate attack, a roadside bomb in Baghdad's central Bab al-Sharji market killed five people and wounded 15.

Three more roadside bombs exploded in quick succession in the Sheikh Omar district, killing a police officer and wounding nine people, an interior ministry source told Reuters news agency.
 
In another development, armed men kidnapped a senior trade ministry official in Baghdad after stopping his vehicle on his way to work.
 
A ministry source said that Muhanad Ahmed Saleh, director of the Baghdad international fair, was abducted in two vehicles shortly after he left his home in western Baghdad. No shots were fired.
 
Children killed
 
Elsewhere, three Iraqi children were killed and eight wounded when they were hit by a roadside bomb on their way to school. The incident took place in the troubled northern oil hub of Kirkuk.
 
A police officer said the bomb exploded in the largely Turkmen district of Musala in northern Kirkuk shortly before 10am local time (0700 GMT) on Tuesday.
 
Captain Imad Jassim said two boys and a girl were killed and eight children wounded by shrapnel from the explosion as they were walking to the Amouriyah primary school.
 
All the casualties were children were under the age of 12, Jassin said. The dead girl and one of the boys who was killed were Kurds, and the other boy a Turkman.
 
Among the wounded were six boys and two girls.
 

Mosul protest

 

In another northern Iraqi city, hundreds of armed men belonging to the self-proclaimed "Islamic State of Iraq" have held a political demonstration, Al Jazeera said.

 

Mosul police dismissed the show of force 
as a propaganda stunt 
The al-Qaeda-linked fighters set up checkpoints and called on other armed groups in Iraqi to elect Abu Omar al-Baghdadi - a man they call the "Emir of the Islamic State of Iraq - as their leader.

 

Al Jazeera aired video clips of the demonstration by the armed al-Qaeda men on the streets of Mosul.

Iraqi police denounced the film as a propaganda stunt and insisted that they remained in control of the area.
  
"These propaganda images were filmed in small alleyways of Mosul for only a few minutes," Brigadier General Abdelkarim Khalaf al-Jaburi, the Iraqi police's director of operations in Mosul, said.
  
"Afterwards these images were distributed, but they do not reflect the situation in the city. The number of al-Qaeda elements in Mosul is very limited and confined to the outskirts of town," he added.
  

In other news, a spokesman for Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, has confirmed that US troops detained two Iranians who were in Iraq at his invitation.
 
"The president is unhappy about it," said Hiwa Osman, Talabani's media adviser, on Tuesday.
 
He gave no further details, and the US military said it had no comment.