Insurgents launched a surprise attack on Baghdad's heavily guarded Interior Ministry building early Monday, killing two police officers and wounding five others, officials said. Two British soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Iraq.
Insurgent casualties were unknown in the rare daylight assault, which began soon after sunrise and lasted about 15 minutes. Thunderous explosions could be heard in the center of Baghdad as insurgents fired rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons.
At least four U.S. Apache and Black Hawk helicopters could be seen flying over the area in central Baghdad after the firefight, including one with large Red Cross signs on the fuselage.
The Apaches were later joined by U.S. Army patrols in armored vehicles combing the streets to try to hunt down the attackers.
The two British soldiers died when their armored Land Rover was destroyed by a bomb in the Zubeir area, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Basra. The deaths brought to 95 the number of British military personnel killed in Iraq.
In the northern city of Tal Afar, bodies of three district leaders were found Monday, police said. The three had turned down demands by insurgents to cooperate in their fight with U.S. and Iraqi forces.
Eight Iraqi civilians _ including five children _ were killed in fighting there Monday, Dr. Abdul-Aal Kamal of the Tal Afar hospital said. Fighting was reported Monday afternoon in the western part of the city.
On Sunday, U.S. troops killed seven insurgents in Tal Afar, including six who fired at the Americans from a mosque, the U.S. command said. Iraqi officers said well-armed insurgents controlled the center of Tal Afar and their ranks included fighters from Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
U.S. and Iraqi officials hope the new constitution, which goes to the voters in a referendum Oct. 15, will in time help pacify the insurgency by luring Sunni Arabs from the insurgency. However, Sunni negotiators rejected the constitution and vowed to defeat it in the referendum.