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Bombings and shootings kill at least 23 in Iraq

House searches for weapons planned in capital

BAGHDAD -- A series of bombings and shootings killed at least 23 people in Iraq yesterday, including a 7-year-old girl and two college professors.

Brigadier General Abdul- Karim Khalaf, director of the Interior Ministry's national command center, vowed to strike back at the spiraling sectarian violence in Baghdad, saying Iraqi forces will soon launch house-to-house searches to confiscate hidden weapons.

"No house or area will be excluded from this search. All kinds of weapons will be confiscated," he told reporters, adding that 40 policemen were killed and 90 wounded in the capital in the last week.

The US military confirmed that another soldier died in fighting Wednesday, raising to 11 the number of American troops killed on the same day the Iraq Study Group issued a report in Washington increasing pressure on President Bush to change his war strategy.

The soldier was shot while manning a machine gun on the roof of an outpost in Ramadi, capital of volatile Anbar province, according to a reporter on the scene.

Ten other US troops were killed in four separate incidents in Iraq, a major blow on the day a bipartisan panel recommended gradually shifting US forces from combat to training roles.

The military released details about five of the dead, saying they were Task Force Lightning soldiers who were struck by a roadside bomb while conducting combat operations near the northern city of Kirkuk.

Wednesday's killings followed a particularly bloody weekend and raised to at least 31 the number of US deaths in the first week of this month. At least 69 military troops were killed in November and 105 were killed in October -- the highest monthly toll since January 2005.

Police said fighting involving Sunni Arab insurgents in Ramadi occurred from 4 p.m. Wednesday to noon yesterday. Twelve civilians were killed and nine wounded, a policeman and a hospital official said.

In Fallujah, another city in Anbar province, a car bomb killed two policemen and wounded one, a policeman said. Iraqi and American forces also conducted a raid in Fallujah yesterday that killed a regional leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who had directed insurgent attacks there and participated in the kidnapping and killing of several Iraqi police officers, the US command said.

In Mosul a 7-year-old girl was killed in crossfire between insurgents and policemen, said police Colonel Abdel-Karim Khalaf.

Mohammed Haidar Sulaiman, a professor at a sports education college, was killed when gunmen opened fire while he was driving in eastern Mosul.

And in the capital, a drive-by shooting killed professor al-Harith Abdul-Hamid, director of the psychology center at the University of Baghdad, as he was going to work, said police Lieutenant Bilal Ali.

 Bush faults panel ideas, calls victory in Iraq vital (By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff)
 BUSH / BLAIR EXCERPTS: 'The question is, how do we find the right way forward?' ()
 Private Saudis said to fund Iraq insurgents (By Salah Nasrawi, Associated Press)
 Bombings and shootings kill at least 23 in Iraq (By Thomas Wagner, Associated Press)
 SCOT LEHIGH: What will Congress do?
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