Insurgents in Iraq launched a series of attacks (today / Thursday) in Baghdad and four mainly Sunni Muslim towns -- Fallujah, Baquba, Ramadi and Mosul.
The Iraqi health ministry says at least 66 people were killed and more than 200 others wounded in the apparently coordinated strikes against police stations and other government buildings.
In Baghdad, police say at least four members of the Iraqi national guard were killed in a car bomb blast in a southern district (Dora).
The U.S. military says two American soldiers were killed and seven wounded in fighting in Baquba.
Another U.S soldier was killed in Mosul, where U.S. forces and insurgents are locked in a fierce battle.
One Cobra helicopter was downed in Fallujah, but the crew was not hurt.
The surge in violence comes ahead of next week's scheduled transfer of power from the U.S.-led coalition authority to an interim Iraqi government.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.