BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 11 - An American soldier was killed when a vehicle struck a concealed bomb in western Baghdad during a patrol today, the American military said.
The deaths brought to six the number of American soldiers killed in attacks since Friday in Iraq. Four American soldiers were killed in or near the capital on Saturday, and another died on in a suicide car bombing aimed at a group of soldiers in the Abu Ghraib neighborhood, according to the military.
The suicide attack on Friday also wounded 11 soldiers and an Iraqi civilian, the military said.
Two of the soldiers killed on Saturday were struck by small-arms fire in the Yusufiya district southwest of the capital, a third was killed while on patrol northwest of the city and the fourth by a concealed bomb while on patrol in the Sunni-dominated Adahmiya neighborhood in northern Baghdad, the military said.
The military generally withholds details of attacks, including the names of troops who have suffered casualties, until relatives have been notified.
The military also said on Saturday that a soldier stationed in Anbar Province died of what the military believed was a heart attack while on guard duty on Thursday.
The police on Saturday discovered the body of an Egyptian engineer who had been abducted by gunmen in Tikrit a day earlier, a police commander there said. The body of the man, Ibrahim al-Hilali, 45, was found in Beiji, in northern Iraq, the police official said. The Egyptian had lived in Iraq for several years, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Kidnappings have swept the foreign community during the past two weeks. On Nov. 26, a militant group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade abducted four Westerners from the Christian Peacemaker Teams and said it would kill them unless the authorities released all Iraqi prisoners from United States and Iraqi jails by Saturday. Iraqi and American authorities said on Saturday that they had received no word regarding the captives.
The kidnappers first set a Thursday deadline for the release of the activists -- an American, a Briton and two Canadians -- but extended it.
In sermons on Friday at several prominent Sunni Arab mosques, clerics pleaded for the release of the activists, hailing their aid work and opposition to the war.
A German archaeologist and a French engineer kidnapped in the past two weeks are still being held. A group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq said Thursday that it had killed Ronald Alan Schulz, an American kidnapped earlier in the week. But American and Iraqi authorities say they have not been able to confirm the claim.
In Dujail, north of Baghdad, death threats were painted on the houses of two witnesses who testified last week in the trial of Saddam Hussein , who is charged with crimes against humanity in the torture and killing of 148 Shiite men and teenage boys there.
One witness, Ahmad Hassan Muhammad, 38, described scenes of torture he witnessed after his arrest in 1982. The other, a woman identified only as Witness A, recounted how security officers tortured her with beatings and electric shocks at a secret police center when she was 16. Both are in a witness protection program.
Persuading witnesses to testify has been among the many obstacles prosecutors have encountered in trying mount a case against the former dictator. Some witnesses gave pretrial testimony to the investigating judge, but have declined to appear in court despite promises to protect their identities and their families. Those promises have been in some doubt since lawyers related to the case were kidnapped and killed.
According to an Interior Ministry official, at least 10 people were wounded Saturday night in celebratory gunfire that erupted when Iraq beat Syria 4-3 on penalty kicks to win the soccer gold medal in the West Asian games in Doha. The gunfire, mainly from Kalashnikovs and pistols, lasted more than half an hour and the red streaks of tracer bullets sketched designs against the night sky.
In an Internet posting, an insurgent group, the Victorious Army Group, set a Jan. 15 deadline for a contest to design its Web site "worthy of the group's reputation and the reputation of the jihad and the mujahideen," according to a translation provided on Saturday by the SITE Institute, which monitors jihadist Web site. The winner of the contest is promised "Allah's blessings" and the opportunity to fire three long-range rockets at an American military base "by pressing one button with his blessed hands."