Baghdad, Iraq Gunmen kidnapped a senior Interior Ministry official in the heart of the Iraqi capital Wednesday, and the U.S. military reported that five more American soldiers had been killed.
The latest violence came as Iraqi politicians intensified talks to try to meet a Monday deadline for finalizing a constitution.
Brig. Gen. Khudayer Abbas, chief of the administrative affairs office in the Interior Ministry, was dragged from his car on Andalus Square and spirited away in another vehicle, according to police Maj. Abbas Mohammed Salman.
No group claimed responsibility. The Interior Ministry supervises police and elite paramilitary units that are at the forefront of the fight against insurgents.
Four U.S. soldiers were killed shortly before midnight Tuesday when insurgents attacked their 10-member patrol as it investigated explosions near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad.
A fifth American soldier assigned to the 2nd Marine Division was killed Tuesday by small arms fire near Habaniyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad.
The Beiji attack was launched when insurgents detonated a roadside bomb, then poured rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire on the American unit, the U.S. command said. Five soldiers and a U.S. civilian contractor were wounded.
Late Wednesday, five Iraqi soldiers were killed and two were wounded when insurgents attacked a checkpoint about 12 miles south of Beiji, police said.
Gunmen also killed police Capt. Mahmoud Hassan in Baghdad's western Bayaa district, police said.
Names of the U.S. soldiers killed in Beiji were not released. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said five members of the Pennsylvania National Guard had been killed in action in Iraq. However, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania National Guard, Capt. Cory P. Angell, would say only a guard unit suffered casualties that included dead and wounded during an attack in Beiji.
The deaths brought the number of American troops killed this month in Iraq to 37. At least 1,841 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.