BAGHDAD, Iraq—U.S. combat casualties in Iraq surpassed the total of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, reaching 148, when an American soldier died Friday as his convoy was hit by a remote-controlled bomb near the town of Fallujah.
In Najaf, an Iraqi center for the Shiite branch of Islam, a prominent cleric urged his followers to resist the new U.S.-selected Governing Council of prominent Iraqis, which suggested the coalition was losing more support among the majority Shiite population. The Shiites initially welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his Sunni Muslim-dominated regime, which had brutally suppressed them.
The U.S. soldier died when insurgents detonated a bomb under his Humvee as he was patrolling with the 3rd Infantry Division.
"One soldier was killed as his vehicle passed over an improvised explosive device," said Sgt. 1st Class Ken Hudson, a coalition spokesman. "There were no other soldiers wounded."
Fallujah, about 25 miles west of Baghdad, has been the scene of repeated attacks against U.S. forces, though they have tailed off in the past week, since American troops withdrew from key positions in the city, including the police station.
In Najaf in southern Iraq, a popular Shiite cleric told his followers to reject the new Governing Council. Southern Iraq is home to most of the country's Shiites.
"We condemn the Governing Council headed by the United States," Muqtada al Sadr said in a sermon at a mosque.
He called for the formation of an Islamic army, but it was unclear if he told them to fight the Americans.
Sadr also called for a constitution that includes all Iraqis to be drawn up independently of the American-led coalition government.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.