Iraq: Five dead including US soldier two days ahead of referendum
U.S. and Iraqi forces boosted security across Iraq on Thursday in a bid to reduce the number of attacks ahead of this weekend's constitutional referendum.
One day after Iraqi lawmakers approved a set of last-minute amendments to the constitution, a four-day national holiday started. Wednesday's agreement sealed a compromise designed to win minority Sunni support for the charter.
Government offices and schools were closed ahead of Saturday's vote, and a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew went into effect Thursday. On Friday the country's borders will be closed and all travel among its provinces halted, the AP reported.
In a related development, thousands of Iraqi detainees who have not been brought to trial were allowed to vote early in the constitutional referendum at U.S. prisons such as Abu Ghraib detention center.
American and Iraqi forces erected concrete barriers topped with concertina wire in front of polling places, to protect them from bombs.
In the last 18 days, more than 400 people have been killed by attacks.
A U.S. soldier died when by a roadside bomb hit his patrol in northern Iraq on Thursday, the military said. The incident occurred at about 1 p.m. near Dujail, 50 miles north of Baghdad, the statement detailed. A roadside bomb went off near a U.S. military convoy in Mosul Thursday, killing two Iraqi civilians and wounding one, said police Brig. Gen. Saeed Ahmed al-Jibouri.
A car bomb also hit an Iraqi police patrol in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing two policemen and wounding two, said police Brig. Sarhad Qadir.
On Wednesday, the US Army announced that two soldiers died and one was injured when their vehicle rolled over while on patrol near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.