Sunday October 23, 2005 11:46 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - An angry mob of insurgents attacked a convoy of American contractors last month when they got lost in a town north of Baghdad, killing four and wounding two, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

The Sept. 20 attack in the mostly Sunni Arab town of Duluiyah, about 45 miles north of Baghdad, was reported for the first time on Saturday by the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph and confirmed by the military on Sunday.

The convoy, which included U.S. military guards riding in Humvees, made a wrong turn into Duluiyah and insurgents opened fire with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Maj. Richard Goldenberg, a spokesman for Task Force Liberty in north-central Iraq, told The Associated Press.

``Task Force Liberty soldiers, which have a forward operating base in that area, responded to assist the convoy, administered first aid to two wounded contractors and evacuated the remains of four contractors killed,'' Goldenberg said.

He said he had no information about what the U.S. soldiers riding in the convoy had done during the attack.

The attack caused no U.S. military casualties, but Goldenberg said his men, acting on a tip, returned to the area two days later to detain an individual suspected of ties to the attack. The U.S. troops killed two insurgents after coming under fire.

The Telegraph reported the contractors killed and wounded were employees of the Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, the biggest U.S. military contractor in Iraq. But Goldenberg could not confirm that.

The Telegraph reported that two of the contractors not killed in the initial attack were dragged alive from their vehicle, which had been badly shot up. They were forced to kneel in the road before being killed.

``Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight,'' the paper reported.

``Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames.''

The crowd then ``dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-U.S. slogans,'' the report said.

The Telegraph cited U.S. Capt. Andrew Staples, a member of the Task Force Liberty battalion that patrols the area including Duluiya, who told the paper he had talked to soldiers involved in the attack. But none of the soldiers involved were identified.

It was not immediately clear why the U.S. military had not reported the deaths earlier. But two other military spokesmen said Sunday that the military generally relies on U.S. government officials to report the deaths of American civilians and contractors in Iraq.

In a similar attack in March 2004, a mob of Iraqis in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah killed four U.S. security contractors, mutilated their bodies and hanged them from a bridge.,1280,-5363776,00.html