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Iraq promises more suicide bombings

Four U.S. soldiers killed in car bomb attack

Najaf lies about 95 miles south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Najaf lies about 95 miles south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's vice president said an Iraqi military officer carried out Saturday's deadly suicide bomb attack and promised more to come, warning Iraq could send a single "martyr" to kill thousands of Americans.

Four U.S. soldiers with the 3rd Infantry Division were killed Saturday morning when a suicide bomber in a taxi attacked a military checkpoint in the central Iraqi town of Najaf, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said.

The suicide bombing was the first against U.S. and British forces since the invasion of Iraq began.

Col. Will Grimsley, commander of the division's 1st Brigade, said an Iraqi in a taxi drove up the checkpoint -- where soldiers try to determine civilians from Iraqi fighters in civilian clothes -- early Saturday morning. A sign in Arabic announces the roadblock, he said.

The taxi driver beckoned the soldiers closer, Grimsley said. As the soldiers approached the vehicle, he detonated the bomb, killing himself and four soldiers, Grimsley said.

The attack in Najaf and an earlier incident Saturday near Basra appeared to validate Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan's 2-month-old threat of suicide bombings.

Two Iraqis in civilian clothes near Basra flagged down a U.S. Army Humvee and told the soldiers inside they were members of the Saddam Fedayeen and were ordered to conduct suicide bombings against U.S. and British troops.

The Iraqis told the Americans they had taken off their uniforms and wanted to surrender because they did not want to die for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, reported CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who witnessed the incident.

Ramadan first threatened the use of suicide attacks in Iraq and elsewhere in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel in early February. He also held a news conference Saturday in Baghdad.

"This is only the beginning and you will hear more good news in the coming days," Ramadan said Saturday. "These bastards will be welcomed at the level and in the way they deserve."

"We have the right to use any means," Ramadan said, calling on Iraqis "to attack them in their homes."

"We can have ... a suicide martyr that can kill 5,000 in one mission," he said.

To avoid that future, Ramadan told the U.S.-led coalition to, "pack your bags and leave us alone."

Ramadan is believed to have coordinated the brutal suppression of the Shia rebellion of 1991 in southern Iraq.

U.S. Central Command Director of Operations Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart Jr. condemned Saturday's attack as a terrorist act but said it not change the coalition's operational strategy.

"That kind of activity I think is something of a symbol of an organization that is getting a bit desperate," said Renuart. "Having said that, our troops do in fact train to those kinds of events."

Names of the dead were withheld pending notification of next of kin, Central Command said.

CNN Correspondent Lisa Rose Weaver contributed to this report.

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