BAGHDAD -- A roadside bomb killed three American soldiers south of Baghdad yesterday as US and Iraqi forces swept through a city to the north where three insurgents had been killed the day before after firing on US troops.
The three Americans died in the attack shortly before noon in Babil province, the US military said, giving few other details. However, Iraqi police said the blast targeted a military convoy near Mahaweel, 35 miles south of Baghdad.
In Samarra, 60 miles north of the capital, American and Iraqi forces imposed a daytime curfew and searched neighborhoods looking for insurgents a day after three militants were killed after they opened fire on US soldiers, police said.
Samarra was the scene of the Feb. 22 explosion at a Shi'ite shrine that enflamed sectarian tensions. It triggered reprisal attacks on Sunnis, forced tens of thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes and pushed the country to the brink of civil war.
American officials are hoping the new national unity government of Shi'ites, Sunnis, and Kurds will eventually reduce sectarian tensions and lure disaffected Sunni Arabs away from the insurgency so US and other foreign troops can begin to go home.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has until late this month to complete his Cabinet, the final stage in organizing the new government. Haitham al-Husseini, a Shi'ite spokesman, said the Cabinet would be announced Tuesday.
The statement was made after a meeting among Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and two top Shi'ite leaders. No Sunni Arab politicians attended, and it was unclear whether the Sunnis had accepted the Tuesday date.
In a joint interview yesterday with Al-Arabiya television, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, and Sunni Arab lawmaker Saleh al-Mutlaq clashed over whether the Kurds should retain the Foreign Ministry post.
Six people, five of them Sunnis, were killed yesterday when gunmen firebombed two groceries in the capital's Yarmouk district, police said. A community leader was slain near Khalis 50 miles north of Baghdad, police said.