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Truck bomb kills 10 in Iraq

US troops raid Shi'ite militia site

BAGHDAD -- A suicide truck bomber struck the provincial headquarters of an Iraqi police commando force north of Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 10 police commandos and wounding 18 others, police said.

Early today, three separate roadside bomb attacks in Baghdad killed at least nine people, according to a Reuters report that quoted police sources. Two of the blasts targeted police, the report said. No further details were available.

Early yesterday in Baghdad, Iraqi and US forces raided a Shi'ite militia stronghold, triggering a gunbattle that left three people dead, while 12 people were killed in other attacks, including five in a drive-by shooting at a barbershop.

The suicide bomber's truck, carrying apples and bananas, drove through razor-wire barricades around the two-story building of the Interior Ministry's police commandos, located near an intersection in central Samarra, police Captain Laith Mohammed said.

He said 10 commandos were killed and eight were wounded. Ten civilians were also injured.

The building was virtually leveled, said policeman Mohammed Ali, who went to the scene with ambulances after the attack. He said three houses nearby were severely damaged and three cars were destroyed.

US forces sealed off the area, and rescue workers dug through the rubble.

Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, was the site of a bomb attack that destroyed a revered Shi'ite shrine on Feb. 22, setting off a wave of deadly sectarian attacks that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks across central and northern Iraq in recent days that have tested the capabilities of Iraq's US-trained security forces.

In Baghdad, sounds of heavy gunfire and explosions rattled the Sadr City district about 1 a.m. yesterday and persisted for more than an hour. Iraqi government television and aides to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said US aircraft attacked area buildings.

``We condemn this cowardly, terrorist attack conducted by the US forces in Sadr City," said Falah Shanshal, a lawmaker aligned to Sadr. ``We demand the government take necessary measures to stop such unjustified aggression, and we demand an investigation."

Colonel Hassan Chaloub, police chief of Sadr City, said three people including a woman and a 3-year-old girl were killed, and 12 injured in the fighting. He said three cars and three houses also were destroyed.

The US military said the fighting started when Iraqi and US forces raided the area to catch extremists suspected of running torture cells. The forces took fire as they arrived, and one US soldier was injured, the statement said.

The United States recently reinforced its troop strength in the city to try to reclaim the streets from militias -- which include Sadr's Mahdi Army.

General George Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, said he discussed with Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, a security plan to bring ``fundamental change to the security situation in Baghdad."

He did not elaborate.

Talabani rejected suggestions that the country was sliding toward civil war.

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