THE Americans have admitted carrying out a massive strike against a building in a residential area of Baghdad - because they thought Saddam Hussein may have been there.

Intelligence reports had apparently suggested that key figures from the Iraqi regime, including possibly Saddam and his two sons, were in the building in the Mansour district.

A US military spokesman said it was hit "hard", with four precision-guided 2,000-pound bombs.

There were reports that possibly 14 civilians died in the attack. Apparently it had been thought a high level meeting was being held in the area.

Gunfire and explosions have been heard during the night around the presidential palace, which was been seized by US troops when they pushed an armoured column deep into Baghdad.

Reports suggested Iraqis fired artillery, grenades and mortars at the area, and the Americans replied with a burst of rocket fire.

US forces have remained well inside Iraq, and there have been reports of occasional fighting in Baghdad's suburbs, though resistance appeared to be sporadic.

US marines have attacked Baghdad from the east, reportedly engaging units of the Special Republican Guard. Two marines were killed and three injured in an apparent "friendly fire" incident, when an artillery round struck their armoured vehicle.

UK troops in Basra may soon switch from a combat role because significant resistance seems to have come to an end in Iraq's second city. A British forces spokesman said they move to "post-conflict nation-building".

During their two-day summit at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland, President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair stressed that the US and UK were united in their view that Iraq must be run by a body representing all its people.

An demonstration against the war in Iraq was held near the meeting venue.

In the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah there are reports of fighting between Iraqi groups which are for and against Saddam Hussein.

Further tests are being carried out on suspected chemical weapons found by US forces.

And there are reports that the US plans to bring members of the Iraqi regime to trial for alleged war crimes against American service people.

Updated: 08:12 Tuesday, April 08, 2003