The US military says its forces in Iraq have captured a wanted Baath Party official.

It said Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, who is number 54 on the US military's 55-most-wanted list, was detained in an operation earlier this week.

In a separate development, US troops in Iraq shot dead eight Iraqis during a firefight near the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad. Another Iraqi was also said to have been injured.

The US military said its troops were fired upon by the Iraqis in what it described as a 'drive-by shooting'.

Suicide car bomb

Earlier, a suicide car bomber blew his vehicle up outside a police station in the Iraqi town of Baquba, killing two people and wounding more than 20, US military and local doctors confirmed.

A police officer at the scene said he saw the car, said to be a green Toyota, racing towards the station seconds before it detonated about 50 feet from the entrance to the compound.

He said police had fired on the vehicle but the driver did not stop. The attack occurred at about 8.30am local time.

Baquba has been the scene of previous bomb attacks; at least six people were killed last Friday when a bomb strapped to a bicycle went off outside a Shi'ite mosque.