4 US troops, 12 Iraqi policemen die over X-mas

Four American soldiers died over Christmas weekend in Iraq, while clashes and a suicide bomber killed a dozen Iraqi policemen, officials said Sunday. Five of the Iraqi officers died battling Shiite militiamen in a provincial capital in southern Iraq just months after British troops ceded control of the province to Iraqi security forces. Three days of fierce fighting in Samawah, capital of the Muthana province, posed a challenge for Iraqi forces whose responsibilities are increasing as part of a US plan to put more Iraqi provinces under local control.