An explosion leveled part of a building as U.S. troops searched it for suspected "chemical munitions" on Monday, an American general said. Two soldiers were killed and five wounded, and a cheering mob of Iraqis looted their wrecked Humvees, taking away weapons, a helmet and a bandolier.
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt did not say what sort of chemical munitions were believed to be produced at the site. After the blast, there was no sign in the area of precautions against chemicals.
"Chemical munitions could mean any number of things," including smoke grenades, he said.
In Fallujah, U.S. troops and insurgents battled around a mosque in fighting that killed one Marine and eight militants. The area shook with heavy explosions a day after U.S. officials announced a fragile cease-fire in the besieged city was being extended.
The deaths of the two soldiers in Baghdad and the Marine in Fallujah brought to 114 the number of U.S. troops killed in combat this month. During the two-month invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein a year ago, 115 Americans were killed.
In the south, U.S troops rolled into a base in Najaf to replace Spanish forces who are withdrawing and to increase pressure on the militia of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Americans were three miles from the city's holy sites -- shrines that U.S. commanders have said they won't go near for fear of outraging Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority.
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Explosion levels building in Baghdad
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