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The span was bombed three months ago and only one lane had reopened, according to the police officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

And in Baghdad, dozens of uniformed gunmen in 17 official vehicles stormed an Oil Ministry compound and abducted a deputy oil minister and three other officials, a ministry spokesman and police said.

The violence occurred as 16,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops began a new operation north of the Iraqi capital targeting insurgents who have fled a crackdown in the restive city of Baqouba, the military said yesterday.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Yazidis.

The Yazidi sect has been the target of attacks in the past, with the most violent coming after the stoning death in April of a Yazidi teenager who had converted to Islam after she eloped with a Muslim. Police said the 18-year-old woman was killed by relatives who disapproved of the match.

Two weeks later, gunmen fatally shot 23 Yazidis execution-style after stopping their bus and separating out followers of other faiths after checking their identification cards in what was thought to have been retaliation for the woman’s death.

The bodies of two Yazidi men who had been stoned to death also turned up in the morgue in the northern city of Kirkuk yesterday, six days after they had been kidnapped while they were en route to Baghdad to sell olives, police said.

The U.S. service members were killed when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a routine post-maintenance test flight near Taqaddum air base, according to a military statement and 1st Lt. Shawn Mercer, a Marine spokesman.

The air base is about 45 miles west of Baghdad in restive Anbar province, a Sunni insurgent stronghold that has become calmer in recent months as tribal leaders have joined forces against al Qaeda in Iraq.

In Baghdad, Abdel-Jabar al-Wagaa, the senior assistant to Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, was kidnapped by more than 50 gunmen wearing security forces uniforms and driving what were thought to be military vehicles, said Assem Jihad, the Oil Ministry spokesman.