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U.S. offensive continues

By Associated Press
Published October 4, 2005

QAIM, Iraq - With snipers on rooftops and helicopters hovering overhead, U.S. forces clashed with insurgent fighters Monday while searching homes in Karabilah and Rumana, near the Syrian border.

In Baghdad, Iraq's oil minister narrowly escaped a bombing.

The military said it confirmed at least 21 militants killed, two in fighting Monday and 19 from an airstrike the day before, bringing the three-day total to 57.

No U.S. troops have been killed or seriously injured in the offensive, the military said.

While U.S. forces pushed their western offensive, fighting erupted in the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, with masked militants attacking an Iraqi patrol and sparking a gunbattle in the streets of Ramadi.

Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum was headed out of the capital to attend the opening of a rebuilt refinery when the roadside bomb hit his seven-car motorcade Monday morning, killing three of his bodyguards, the ministry said. Bahr al-Uloum was unhurt.

The assassination attempt came a week after a car bomb at a checkpoint near the Oil Ministry killed at least three ministry employees and seven policemen.

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