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Car bombs kill at least 24 people in Baghdad, Mosul

BAGHDAD, Iraq—Insurgents set off thunderous twin car bombs on Saturday outside a police station in Baghdad, and then deployed a suicide car bomber in the northern city of Mosul against Kurdish militiamen. At least 24 people died in the two attacks, and dozens more were wounded.

In other attacks, anti-U.S. insurgents detonated roadside bombs in eastern Baghdad and north of the capital, killing two U.S. soldiers. A suicide car bomber also struck a checkpoint near Iraq's western border with Jordan, killing two foreign soldiers. Their nationalities were not immediately released.

Saturday's twin car bombs in Baghdad marked the second straight day of major daylight attacks in the capital, apparently designed to underscore the city's vulnerability despite constant U.S. military patrols.

The powerful blasts outside the al Karkh police precinct at 9:30 a.m. local time shook windows nearly a mile away across the Tigris River. Black smoke curled upward over the burning wrecks of cars near the station. Shooting erupted after the blasts, television reports said.

Hospital sources said the twin explosions left eight people dead and 38 wounded. It was not immediately clear how many victims were police.

The al Karkh police station is just steps away from the bunkered entrance to the "green zone," headquarters of Iraq's interim government and U.S. diplomatic and military installations. Baghdad's convention center, where Iraq's interim leaders often meet with U.S. officials, and the al Rashid Hotel, where scores of foreign diplomats and contractors reside, are nearby.

In Mosul, a northern city near the border with Turkey, a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle near a bus carrying Kurdish peshmerga militiamen. A U.S. military source said the blast killed between 16 and 18 of the Kurdish security personnel and wounded many more.

The militiamen are linked to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two major Kurdish political parties. The PUK supports the U.S.-backed interim government and has become a target of anti-U.S. insurgents.

While no one took responsibility for Saturday's attacks, Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, al-Qaida in Iraq, posted an Internet statement Friday claiming success in an assault Friday on Baghdad's Amil police station and other attacks on police. It said the "filthy" police collaborated with U.S. forces.

In Friday attacks, assailants laid siege to Baghdad's Amil police precinct, killing 16 officers. The precinct lies near an area patrolled by U.S. troops. A huge car bomb also ripped through the area near a Shiite mosque in the capital, killing 14 people.

"It is noteworthy," the al-Zarqawi statement said, "that all the said operations have been carried out in the capital, Baghdad, may God purge it and the entire country of the filth of occupiers and apostates."

Scores of Iraqi police have been killed in recent weeks, and thousands now stay at home out of fear of going to work. U.S. officials deny, though, that the annihilation campaign is hurting efforts to build up the police force, which the Pentagon views as critical to bringing stability to Iraq.

"A large number of Iraqi security forces have been killed," Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said Friday in Washington. "They've been killed in action. They've been killed through the intimidation campaign. There have been execution-style assassinations. And yet, thus far, Iraqis are coming forward to serve."


(Knight Ridder special correspondent Yasser Salihee contributed to this report.)


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