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Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are trying to recruit some young people in order to carry out attacks in an apparent attempt to show that they are still active,” Ali said.

In other violence Friday, gunmen ambushed a checkpoint near the Anbar province town of Qaim, a former insurgent stronghold near the Syrian border, killing seven Iraqi soldiers, according to police, hospital and provincial officials.

They said the gunmen shot an eighth soldier several times but left him alive “to convey a message to the Iraqi army.”

Provincial council member Sheik Efan Saadoun blamed the attack on a decision to replace police with Iraqi soldiers who are less familiar with the local surroundings.

Meanwhile, car bombs targeting a police captain and a provincial council member tore through two restive cities north of Baghdad.

One blew up in the city of Tuz Khormato about 50 yards (meters) from the house of Niazi Mohammed, an ethnic Turkomen member of the Salahuddin provincial council, according to police.

City police chief Col. Hussein Ali blamed al Qaeda for the attack, which killed at least eight people and wounded 69. A second car bomb was discovered about 100 yards (meters) from the blast site, but it did not explode, Ali said.

Another blast targeted the house of police Capt. Mustafa Mohammed in the city of Baqouba, killing two neighbors and wounding 27 other people, including some of the officer’s relatives, police said.

Hours later in the Sunni district of Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, a bomb exploded at the gate of a house, killing a man and two women who sold tea and water to soldiers at a nearby Iraqi army checkpoint, according to police and hospital officials.

Police said the residents had ignored insurgent warnings to cut off relations with the soldiers.

In a separate attack in Abu Ghraib, gunmen killed an employee of a local irrigation department, 40-year-old Faisal Hassan, his wife and two children as part of an apparent tribal dispute over water distribution, officials said.

Also Friday, two rockets slammed into a group of houses near the Baghdad International Airport, killing two people and wounding eight, police said.

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Associated Press Writers Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Ibrahim Barzak in Gaza City contributed to this report, as did an AP employee in Tikrit, Iraq.