- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2008


A suicide bombing tore through a line of recruits waiting to enter a police academy as multiple blasts struck Iraqi security forces Monday, killing at least 33 people and wounding dozens including four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi general.

The wave of violence in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul occurred as U.S. combat deaths for November dropped to one of the lowest monthly levels of the war - eight - a sign that extremists are focusing on Iraqi forces as the U.S. scales down its battlefield role.

Insurgents appear to be increasingly targeting Iraqi forces who are more vulnerable than the heavily armored U.S. troops even as the Iraqis try to take over their own security so the Americans can go home.

The bloodiest attack in the capital began when a suicide bomber - apparently a teenage boy - detonated an explosives vest packed with ball-bearings as recruits were lined up to be searched at an entrance to the heavily fortified Baghdad police academy.

Within minutes, a car parked about 150 yards away exploded, apparently aimed at those responding to the initial blast, the U.S. military said.

At least 16 people - five policemen and 11 recruits - were killed and nearly 50 wounded, according to police and hospital officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi’s office gave a slightly lower toll of 11 killed, while the U.S. military said 12 Iraqi police were killed.

The twin bombings occurred shortly after a roadside bomb elsewhere in Baghdad targeted Maj. Gen. Mudhir al-Mola, a senior government official overseeing affairs related to U.S.-allied fighters who recently have been turned over to government control in the capital.

A bodyguard was killed, but Gen. al-Mola escaped with minor injuries, according to the U.S. military.

Another roadside bomb struck a police patrol in eastern Baghdad, killing one officer and wounding four other people.

In Mosul, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives as a joint U.S.-Iraq convoy drove by in a crowded commercial area, police said. At least 15 people were killed and 30 wounded in that attack, officials said.

The U.S. military said eight Iraqi civilians were killed and 34 people wounded, including four U.S. soldiers.

The carnage occurred despite a downturn in violent deaths.

At least 17 U.S. troop deaths were recorded in November in Iraq, according to an Associated Press count, but only eight of those occurred during fighting. The military often doesn’t release details about noncombat deaths, but the term usually refers to suicides or accidents.

The toll was a sharp drop from the 37 Americans who died in November 2007 - all but eight in combat, the AP tally showed. In all, at least 4,207 U.S. service members have died since the war began in March 2003.



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