U.S. forces carried out more strikes on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah Saturday hitting what the military described as a "known terrorist meeting site" in the center of the city. Separately, the military announced Saturday the deaths of four U.S. Marines and a soldier.
The soldier died Saturday when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, the military said. The marines were killed in action in the Fallujah area on Friday, a statement said. No further details were provided.
And in Baghdad, wire services reported that six people died when gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying Iraqi National Guard applicants.
Hundreds of police and Guard recruits have been killed in such attacks over the past few months as rebel forces have attempted to discourage Iraqis from cooperating with the interim government as it attempts to build a security force in advance of the January date set for elections.
Iraqi Police Lt. Omar Ahmed told the Associated Press that the group had just left a national guard recruiting center where they had signed up to join the force in the west Baghdad neighborhood of Al-Jamiyah when the attack occurred.
U.S. forces have been pounding Fallujah, west of Baghdad, for weeks using aircraft and artillery in an effort to disrupt the activities of the insurgent network let by Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has claimed responsibility for numerous killings and kidnappings throughout the country.
A statement from the military said that "Zarqawi terrorists were using the site" hit Saturday "to plan additional attacks against Iraqi citizens and multi-national forces" led by the U.S.
The statement said "no innocent civilians were reported in the immediate area at the time of the strike."
However, Dhiya al Jumaili, a physician at Fallujah General Hospital told the Associated Press that at least eight people were killed and 15 wounded, including women and children, in the strike.
Zarqawi's al Qaeda linked group has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of two American and one British contractor on Sept. 16. The two Americans have been beheaded, while the group has posted videos of the Briton, Kenneth Bigley, pleading for his life.
Saturday, an Internet posting claimed that Bigley had been killed. But Britain's Foreign Office could not confirm the death and described the site where the claim appeared as "discredited."