SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed car Thursday near a bank in Iraq where policemen were collecting their paychecks, killing two people, while an American soldier was killed in a separate incident that marks the first U.S. combat death since July. Both incidents took place in northern Iraq.
The U.S. military did not identify the soldier, pending notification of next of kin.
In a teleconference with reporters at the Pentagon, U.S. Maj. Gen. David Perkins said the soldier was about to go on a military operation when he was hit by indirect fire in northern Iraq, using the military's term for rockets or mortars.
It brings to 4,478 the number of American troops who have died in Iraq since the war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Earlier, Col. Salam Zangna, a security official in Kirkuk Hospital, said two people were killed and about 60 others wounded in a blast targeting policemen who were picking up their paychecks at the bank.
Police spokesman in the northern city of Kirkuk, Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir, detailed that it was a policeman and a civilian who were killed.
Mirwan Sadiq had been standing in line near the bank's front door when the blast knocked him down and into a wall. He was among the policemen wounded in the attack.
"My children are waiting for me to come with the salary today in order to buy school bags and stationery," he said. "Instead the family will receive sad news about me."
Kirkuk is located 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad. The city has for years been rife with tensions among Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkomen who all claim rights to the oil-rich land.
Security officials across Iraq are often the target of deadly attacks — in part because militants accuse them of working with U.S. forces who are training them. Extremists are also attempting to highlight Iraq's continued vulnerability ahead of a planned U.S. troop withdrawal by the end of the year.
A police officer was also killed Thursday by gunmen in Baghdad, officials said.
Meanwhile, an employee for Iraq's government-run TV channel died from wounds he sustained in an attack late Wednesday, officials said. The officials in Baghdad spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Separately, lawmaker Ziyad al-Tharib said a former electricity minister who was arrested on Wednesday for questioning about alleged corruption was released a day later. Attempts to reach Raad Shalal about his arrest were unsuccessful.
Al-Tharib said authorities sought details about alleged corruption at the ministry in 2007, before Shalal headed it. Shalal was arrested with a warrant issued by the government's integrity commission after he refused to answer several police requests for an interview.
Shalal was fired in August after being accused of failing to follow guidelines in signing deals worth $1.7 billion to build power stations in Iraq. Both al-Tharib and Shalal are members of the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political coalition.
Yacoub reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writers Hamid Ahmed and Lara Jakes contributed to this report from Baghdad.