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At Least 28 Killed in Iraq in Wave of New Attacks

Security Forces Targeted as Violence Surges

By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 8, 2005; Page A19

BAGHDAD, Feb. 7 -- A man claiming he would help former policemen reapply for their jobs in the northern city of Mosul detonated a bomb strapped to his body and killed 11 people Monday. It was one of several attacks that together killed at least 28 people throughout Iraq.

The bombings were part of a surge in violence after Jan. 30 parliamentary elections for which final returns are expected by Thursday. New preliminary returns released Monday showed an alliance backed by Iraq's Shiite Muslim clergy still holding the largest number of votes, now followed by an alliance representing Kurdish parties in the northern part of the country. A coalition headed by the interim Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, is in third place.

U.S. soldiers guard the site of a bombing in Mosul, northern Iraq, in which the attacker blew himself up in a hospital compound, killing 11 police officers. (AP Photo)

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Most of Monday's attacks targeted Iraqi security forces, which are key to U.S. efforts to stabilize the country and allow the withdrawal of 150,000 U.S. troops.

In the deadliest strike, a car bomb detonated outside the provincial police station in Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Police said about 400 recruits were gathered at the station when the bomb went off, killing 15 people and wounding 17.

The attack in Mosul was at a temporary office set up at the Jumhuri Teaching Hospital to receive some of the more than 6,000 police officers who deserted when insurgents overran police stations on Nov. 11, effectively dismantling the 8,000-man force. The governor's office in Mosul said a man entered Monday, claiming to be carrying job applications. When a crowd gathered around him, officials said, he triggered the explosives.

Eleven men were killed and six wounded, according to the governor's office.

Also, three mortar rounds were fired at the governor's office. They missed their target and fell near a cafe filled with day laborers, residents said. At least one person was killed.

In Samarra, mortars were fired near the city council building, killing one person.

A group led by the Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi asserted responsibility for the suicide bombings in statements posted on a Web site. The group, which identified itself as al Qaeda in Iraq, has carried out some of the worst attacks in Iraq.

Insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent days, striking police stations, deploying car bombs and abducting foreigners in Baghdad, including four Egyptian technicians who work for a mobile phone company.

The Egyptian Embassy said U.S. soldiers freed the men Monday at a checkpoint, the Associated Press reported. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

A group that said it abducted an Italian journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, last week said it would release her soon because it had determined she was not a spy, according to a statement on an Internet site. The statement credited intervention by the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni clerical organization that has acted as an intermediary previously.

"Since it has become absolutely clear that the Italian prisoner is not involved in espionage for the infidels in Iraq . . . we in the Jihad Organization will release the Italian prisoner in the coming days," said the statement, dated Monday. The statement also said the group had acted "in response to the call from" the Association of Muslim Scholars.

Sgrena, 56, was seized on Friday while conducting interviews near Baghdad for Il Manifesto, a communist newspaper in Rome. Her abductors had set a 72-hour deadline for Italy to withdraw its 3,000 troops from Iraq to secure her release.

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