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Car bomb kills 8 in Baghdad; U.S. airstrike kills dozens in Fallujah

BAGHDAD, Iraq—A car bomb killed three police officers and five other people and wounded 25 Friday at a Baghdad checkpoint near where police were rounding up suspected insurgents.

Also on Friday, U.S. jets struck a site used by supporters of suspected terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Fallujah and killed more than 50 foreign fighters, military officials said. Hospital personnel in the area said 44 people were killed, including women and children.

In separate incidents, three U.S. Marines were killed Thursday in Anbar, the western province where insurgents have a stronghold.

The Iraqi government has said it has a plan to quell violence in areas where it's too dangerous to hold elections in January. As part of that plan, U.S. and Iraqi forces have been trying to reclaim areas that insurgents control, such as Baghdad's Haifa Street, which is near the scene of Friday's car bombing. The area is considered a virtual no-go zone for American troops.

Since Sunday, more than 200 Iraqis have been killed in bombings or clashes with multinational forces trying to contain insurgents. Many of those killed were in Baghdad, where car bombings and kidnappings of foreigners have surged in the past month.

U.S. forces and Iraqi police began the Baghdad raid around noon Friday. They set up at least six police cars as a checkpoint to block traffic crossing the Martyr Bridge, which leads to Haifa Street.

Two people approached and began arguing with the officers to let them through, said Ebrahib Galeb, an Iraqi police officer.

At the same time, a white `80s-model Chevrolet Malibu drove through the checkpoint and rammed into the line of cars. The suicide bomber then detonated the car, which was filled with artillery shells.

Body parts and pieces of disintegrated police cars were scattered everywhere, and the artillery shells that didn't explode could be seen in Rasheed Street, the capital's oldest street, which is lined with small shops.

Officers began shooting, injuring some of the people in the area, Galeb said. At one point, the officers thought a second car bomb was coming and began aiming their guns at any car that moved oddly, including those that had made wrong turns.

U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested 63 people during the raid, including Syrians and Egyptians, Interior Ministry spokesman Sabah Kadhim said. They also seized a cache of weapons, including machine guns and grenades, he said.

On Tuesday, more than 50 people were killed outside a police station near Haifa Street, where hundreds of men had lined up to apply for police positions. On Sunday, insurgents set a Bradley fighting vehicle on fire, injuring four soldiers. As children and young men danced around the burning vehicle, a U.S. helicopter fired into the street and 26 Iraqis were killed.

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(Special correspondent Omar Jassin contributed to this story.)

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(c) 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTOS (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): USIRAQ

GRAPHIC (from KRT Graphics, 202-383-6064): 20040917 Iraq Zarqawi

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