updated 12/20/2003 5:24:01 AM ET 2003-12-20T10:24:01

U.S. troops mistakenly shot and killed three Iraqi police officers and wounded two others, thinking they were bandits, an Iraqi police officer said Saturday.

The policemen were manning a checkpoint on a road in the Sleiman Beg area, 55 miles south of Kirkuk city, in northeast Iraq, when U.S. troops opened fire on them around midnight Friday, said Lt. Salam Zangana of the Kirkuk police force. He said two other policemen were wounded.

There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military.

In the same region Friday night, Iraqi police shot and wounded two people they said were trying to place roadside bombs on a route used by the U.S. army around al-Hawija, a town 15 miles west of Kirkuk.

Col. Muslim Hassan of the Kirkuk police force told the AP that the wounded rebels managed to escape, and U.S. soldiers later defused the two bombs.

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