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Suicide bombers strike Iraqi security forces, killing 33 people

Blasts in Mosul deal setback in rebuilding units

MOSUL, Iraq -- Suicide bombers struck a police headquarters, an Iraqi Army base, and a hospital around Mosul yesterday, killing 33 people in a setback to efforts to rebuild the city's police force, which was riven by intimidation from insurgents seven months ago.

At least 14 people were killed in attacks elsewhere in Iraq, including a US soldier whose convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad and six Iraqi soldiers who were gunned down outside their base north of the capital.

The attacks in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, started early yesterday when a suicide bomber with explosives hidden beneath watermelons in a pickup truck slammed into a downtown police station near a market. US Army Captain Mark Walter said 10 police officers and two civilians were killed.

Less than two hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking lot of an Iraqi Army base on Mosul's outskirts, killing 16 people, Walter said. Most of the victims were civilian workers arriving at the site, he said. Of the seven injured, one lost a leg and another was left partially paralyzed, the military said.

A third attacker strapped with explosives walked into Jumhouri Teaching Hospital in the afternoon and blew himself up in a room used by police guarding the facility, killing five officers.

The explosion at the hospital blew a hole in a side of the building, injured some police officers outside. Smoke began pouring from the hole, followed by flames.

''I thought it was a mortar attack," said Ahmed Mohammed al-Hadidi, hospital medic. ''I rushed to help and evacuate the dead. I picked up two legs and two hands. It seems they belonged to the bomber because we did not find a head or the rest of his body."

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorist group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Mosul, the country's third-largest city. The claim, which was made on an Internet site used by militants, could not be verified.

Sitting on the banks of the Tigris River, Mosul is a religious and ethnic mosaic that some see as a microcosm of Iraq.

Some of Iraq's most feared terrorist groups -- including the Ansar al-Sunnah Army and Al Qaeda in Iraq -- operate in the city.

Last November, gunmen stormed police stations, bridges, and political offices, overwhelming police forces who often were unable to put up a fight. Some officers also allegedly cooperated with insurgents. Only about 1,000 of the city's 5,000 police officers returned to work, forcing the government to recruit new officers.

The US military praised the Iraqi forces for their efforts in the face of yesterday's attacks, saying ''policemen in Mosul have continued to man their posts."

An American soldier was killed and two were wounded when a roadside bomb struck a US convoy yesterday in the capital, said Sergeant First Class David Abrams, a spokesman for Task Force Baghdad. At least 1,735 members of the US military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an AP count.

Six Iraqi soldiers also were gunned down outside their base in Sadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad. In other developments yesterday:

A mortar round exploded at a house in eastern Baghdad, killing a woman and two children.

Gunmen killed police Colonel Riyad Abdul Karim, an emergency services official, in eastern Baghdad. Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

A female journalist working for Al-Iraqiyah TV was shot to death in Baghdad.

Four mortar rounds hit a neighborhood in central Ramadi, killing a civilian.

Gunmen killed the owner of a pharmacy in western Iraq, hospital officials said.

The Iraqi tribunal investigating members of Saddam Hussein's regime released a videotape showing two of the ousted dictator's half brothers being questioned about their alleged role in displacing and killing Kurds.

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