At least eight Iraqi security officers have reportedly been mistakenly killed, and about six wounded by U.S. troops near the town of Fallujah, 50 kilometers west of Baghdad. In a second incident Friday, two American soldiers were killed and seven wounded in a firefight in a nearby town.

The Iraqi security officers were chasing suspected bandits during the night, when they came close to a U.S. military checkpoint and were fired upon by mistake. U.S. military officials in Baghdad say they are investigating.

U.S. military officials say the American casualties occurred later in Ramadi, another 50 kilometers to the west, when the troops came under fire during a pre-dawn raid.

Meanwhile, the successor of the senior Shiite leader who was killed by a car bomb in Najaf two weeks ago, says he will follow his brother's moderate policies. Ayatollah Abdel Aziz al-Hakim says he wants all foreign forces to leave Iraq, but understands coalition forces are responsible for security at this time.

The ayatollah called on Iraqis to work together against supporters of the Saddam Hussein regime, who he said are the main cause of the crimes against Iraq.