Two U.S. Soldiers Killed In Fallujah Firefight

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- A U.S. Army unit was attacked in the Iraqi city of Fallujah early Tuesday in a firefight that killed two soldiers and wounded nine, U.S. Central Command said.

A hostile force "of unknown size" fired on the unit with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, a Central Command statement said

The U.S. troops responded with heavy fire from Bradley fighting vehicles and other weapons. Two attackers were killed in the firefight and six were captured, Central Command said.

An Army Medevac helicopter was damaged during the Fallujah firefight when a Bradley Fighting Vehicle accidentally ran into it while trying to move into a position to return fire. Wounded soldiers were evacuated to military aid stations in the area.

According to Central Command, initial reports are that the attackers fired from a mosque in the city, which is 43 miles (70 kilometers) west of Baghdad.

Last Wednesday, at least two Iraqis were killed in Fallujah when gunmen opened fire on a U.S. patrol in the city center with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.

At the end of April and the beginning of May, 17 civilians were killed and seven soldiers wounded in three days of anti-American protests in the city.

Separately, a U.S. Army soldier was killed and three soldiers were wounded near Baghdad International Airport Monday when the vehicle they were riding in was blown up by an explosive device known as a "satchel charge" thrown under their Humvee by a man who "came up out of a ditch and threw the charge," said Capt. David Connolly, an Army spokesman.

Another soldier was killed and one was wounded Monday when their convoy was ambushed early Monday near Haditha, about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, Central Command said.

At the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to formally announce that he has chosen veteran U.N. administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello to serve as Special Representative for Iraq -- a position created in the resolution that lifted the U.N. sanctions that had been imposed on Saddam Hussein's regime.

Vieira de Mello most recently served as the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and has been Annan's representative to Kosovo and East Timor.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is scheduled to give a speech Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, where he is expected to discuss Iraq policy.

The Pentagon is overseeing the administration and reconstruction of post-war Iraq.