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U.S.: Hostile fire suspected in Iraq copter crash


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Witnesses saw what they believed was a weapon fired at a U.S. helicopter that crashed in Iraq, a U.S. military official said Thursday.

The information from "people on the ground" suggested hostile fire was to blame for Wednesday's crash near Ramadi that killed two Marine pilots, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters.

The witnesses said they thought they spotted "a munition" shot at the AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter and saw it break up in the air before it crashed, Lynch said.

A U.S. warplane later dropped two 500-pound bombs on a suspected insurgent base near the site of the crash in Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

"The airstrike against the building was related to the crash of the helicopter," a Marine spokesman said Wednesday.

U.S.-led coalition warplanes in western Iraq also pounded safe houses and killed several insurgents near the Syrian border, officials said. U.S. and Iraqi forces say militants are crossing into Iraq in that area to conduct attacks.

On Thursday, a U.S. soldier assigned to the 43rd Military Police Brigade was killed by a homemade bomb in the Baquba area north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 2,037.

The U.S. military also said that a U.S. soldier was killed when a homemade bomb hit his vehicle Wednesday in Ramadi. (Homemade bombs)

The soldier was killed conducting combat operations when the bomb detonated, the military said.

He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Another U.S. soldier died Wednesday when his patrol was attacked near Balad, north of Baghdad.

Police discover bodies

The bodies of 11 people were found in the southeastern part of the Iraqi capital, police said Thursday.

Some showed signs of torture, and most had been shot execution-style, according to officials.

The bodies were discovered at about noon (4 a.m. ET) Thursday and had not been identified, police said.

North of Baghdad, an Iraqi army officer was killed and a soldier wounded Thursday when gunmen attacked their patrol, police said.

The incident was reported in Muqdadiya, 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Baquba in Diyala province, at 3:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET), according to authorities.

Neither the officer's name nor rank were revealed.

The continuing violence came as a senior official from the United Arab Emirates told CNN that Saddam Hussein had agreed in principle to accepting exile just days before the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003. (Full story)

But Saddam wanted various conditions met, and the deal was never finalized.
(Watch video explaining how the deal faltered -- 2:58)

Violence also was aimed at civilians, with at least 27 being killed Wednesday in three separate attacks.

At least 20 people were killed and 60 more wounded in a suicide vehicle bombing near a Shiite mosque and a busy shopping area in Musayyib, a town 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Baghdad in a region nicknamed the "Triangle of Death" because of insurgent activity and widespread lawlessness, police said.

A car bombing in the northern city of Kirkuk killed two people and wounded seven others, all Iraqis, the city's police chief said.

In Baghdad, roadside bombs Wednesday morning killed at least five people and wounded eight others, Iraqi emergency police said.

The violence coincided with the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and came as candidates began campaigning for the December 15 parliamentary elections.

CNN's Ingrid Formanek, Cal Perry, Aneesh Raman, Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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