U.S. forces hunting for a senior al-Qaida militant leader accused in assassinations and car bomb attacks killed three suspected militants after surrounding a building in the northern city of Kirkuk, the military said.
The clash came around the same time as a failed assassination attempt on an investigative judge in the violence-plagued northern city. Police Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said gunmen in a vehicle attacked Judge Zaher al-Bayati around 8:30 a.m. in the city's southern al-Wasiti neighborhood. Two bodyguards were killed, Qadir said, but al-Bayati, a Turkoman, was unharmed.
About 20 minutes later, there was a drive-by shooting attack on an intelligence officer as he was driving with his wife and daughter, the police chief said. The intelligence officer escaped injury, but his wife and 5-year-old daughter were both hurt.
Tensions are rising in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, in advance of a proposed referendum on whether the oil-rich city will join the self-governing Kurdish region.