BAGHDAD, Feb 7 (AFP): Rebels killed four US marines and at least seven Iraqis died in attacks Tuesday amid a tight security clampdown ahead of the major Shiite Muslim ceremony of Ashura, a favourite target of Sunni insurgents.
The marines were killed in two separate roadside bomb attacks the restive western province of Al-Anbar on Monday and Sunday, the US military said.
The latest fatalities bring the total US military death toll in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 2,255, according to Pentagon figures as of Monday.
In other violence, three Iraqis were killed as they were gathered in central Baghdad to buy cassettes and CDs for the religious ceremony of Ashura, the holiest on the Shiite religious calendar.
Two roadside bombs went off within minutes and five policemen who had arrived at the scene to investigate the first explosion were also wounded.
In a separate attack, two civilians died when their car hit a roadside bomb on the southern outskirts of Baghdad, while a civilian was killed and four policemen wounded when gunmen fired on them in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad.
Unidentified gunmen shot Sheikh Kamal Shakur, head of the city council of Fallujah, a Sunni Arab town in Al-Anbar, and he later died of his wounds in hospital.
Shakur, who had good relations with the marines, played a key role in US efforts to engage with the people of Fallujah, a former bastion of the insurgency until a November 2004 assault by the US military.
All of Fallujah's leaders have faced death threats due to their contacts with US forces.