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Insurgents Hit Bridge North Of Baghdad

Iraqi soldiers now stand sentry at checkpoints on both ends of Baghdad's bridges, searching cars and preventing trucks and other large vehicles from crossing. But some merchants find more frustration than comfort in the extra protection.

"These checkpoints have a lot of disadvantages, like heavy traffic, bothering the people; the merchandise and the goods take a longer time to arrive," said Abdul Rahman Sabri, 42, the owner of a convenience store near the foot of the Jumhuriyah Bridge, which leads to the Green Zone. "These bridges are the veins of life for this part of Baghdad."

Mehdi Jabbar Saad, 41, leaves his home in eastern Baghdad at 7 each morning for what is at least a two-hour commute to his dry-cleaning store just west of the Sinak bridge. With no traffic, he said, the commute should take no more than a half-hour. But despite the risk of crossing such a target every day, he remains undaunted.

"I'm not afraid when I cross the bridge because I believe everyone will die in the moment that God chooses for them to die," he said.

Also Saturday, a series of mortar shells crashed down in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Fadhil, killing eight people and wounding at least 18, according to Iraqi police. Another mortar barrage landed in the Maalif neighborhood of southern Baghdad, police said.

Residents reported that U.S. military helicopters fired on the Habibiya neighborhood, near Sadr City, in eastern Baghdad, late Saturday night. One resident, Mohammed Nadhim, 30, said he heard the attack and could see smoke and flames rising from the scene, as helicopters flew overhead. But Garver, the military spokesman, said he had received no reports of such an incident.

West of the capital, American troops killed three children near Fallujah when a U.S. tank fired on suspected insurgents believed to be planting roadside bombs, the U.S. military said in a statement late Friday night. The children were 7, 9 and 11 years old, the statement said.

Correspondent John Ward Anderson and special correspondent Naseer Nouri contributed to this report.

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