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U.S. troops ambushed in central Iraq Thursday

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KHALDIYAH, Iraq — U.S. troops were ambushed on the main road of this central Iraqi town Thursday, coming under heavy gunfire that destroyed a truck.

An Associated Press reporter who arrived on the scene saw four U.S. tanks surrounding the smoldering truck as helicopters hovered above.

Taking fire from unknown positions, U.S forces were firing with no obvious targets, in an apparent effort to protect themselves until reinforcements arrived, a witness said.

Al-Arabiya television reported eight Americans were killed and one wounded. There was no confirmation of any casualties, and initial casualty reports have proven incorrect in the past.

The AP reporter was fired on by one of the tanks with three rounds from its 50-caliber machine gun.

An AP photographer said his car was shot up by American fire, the windshield blown out and all the tires flattened. The photographer was not injured.

Shortly afterward a huge explosion rocked the area, and there were unconfirmed reports from residents that U.S. Humvees had come under attack a few miles distant.

Khaldiyah is a town in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" in central Iraq, the heartland of support for ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the focus of an anti-American insurgency.

Khaldiyah's police chief was killed in an ambush on Monday as he was returning to his home in Fallujah. The brazen shooting of Col. Khedeir Mekhalef Ali was the latest attack targeting Iraqis who work with coalition forces.