Two soldiers were killed when a US Army reconnaissance helicopter crashed into a river in Iraq, as unknown attackers killed a top police officer and a member of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's Baath party in separate incidents.
The OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crashed Wednesday near Haditha, 250km west of Baghdad. A US Army spokesmen said it appeared the helicopter did not crash due to hostile fire.
In January, five US military helicopters crashed in Iraq, most shot by enemy fire.
Meanwhile in the northern town of Mosul, 370km north of the capital, three men driving a car fired upon Police General Hikmat Mahmud Mohammad as he left his home, Lieutenant-colonel Abdul Azel Hazem Khafudi said.
"The general died in a hail of bullets and the assailants escaped," Khafudi said.
In a separate earlier incident also in Mosul, Anfel Ilah al-Anaz, a general in Saddam's army, was assassinated and his son badly wounded late Tuesday when men pulled up in vehicle and riddled his car with bullets, Police Major Makram Zakariah said.
Anaz was hit in the chest and back, while his son, a former intelligence officer, was hospitalized, Zakariah said.
Dozens of former Baathists have been killed since Saddam's regime was toppled by the US last April.
In Baghdad, Interim Governing Council member Mohammad Bahr Ulum said the Iraqi legislative body will weigh in next week on the UN findings about how the country should best proceed on holding elections and forming a caretaker government.
"The council has received the report and decided to submit it for examination to a special committee and they will deliver a detailed opinion on the document and give an answer in writing to the United Nations Secretary General" Kofi Annan, Ulum said.
A UN team, headed by Lakhdar Brahimi, visited Iraq earlier this month at the request of the US-led coalition and Shiite clerics to determine whether or not elections could be held before June -- which the Americans claimed was impossible.
Annan on Monday finally delivered his report, which rejected both the US notion of caucuses and the Shiite majority's demand for speedy elections. Annan warned it would probably take until early 2005 to conduct polls, citing Iraq's need for an electoral law.
A deputy to Ulum also said that the body would meet its Saturday deadline for completing the transitional law that will rule Iraq after the country recovers its independence on June 30.
Highlighting the difficulties of uniting the ethnically diverse country, thousands of Iraqi Turkmen, most of them from the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, demonstrated Wednesday in Baghdad calling for more recognition of their rights.
With banners marked "No to a constitution that ignores the rights of Turkmen" and "It's up to Turkmen to decide who should represent them in the Governing Council," the marchers caused traffic chaos around the former presidential palace, now headquarters for the US-led coalition.
"We are being marginalized in state institutions," said Faruq Abdallah Abdel Rahman, a leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front.
The Turkmens claim they are about 13 percent of Iraq's population of 25 million, or slightly more than three million people, making them the third-largest ethnic group after the Arabs and Kurds.
However, according to the last Iraqi census conducted in 1977, Turkmens made up no more than 2 percent of the population.
The Turkmen, who live mainly in Kirkuk, are 60 percent Sunni Muslim and 40 percent Shiite Muslim.
Also Wednesday in Baghdad, US and Iraqi soldiers detained about 20 people suspected of posing a "security threat" and seized 175 drums of explosives in a large operation near the health ministry, US military officials said.
Also, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller arrived for talks with the US administrator Paul Bremer and Iraqi officials.
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