- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BAGHDAD (AP) - A suicide truck bomber plowed through a sandbag barrier to strike a police station in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and wounding 17, police said.

It was the latest challenge to efforts by Iraqi forces to take over their own security as the United States prepares to withdraw all its forces by the end of 2011.

The bomber broke through the first checkpoint on the station’s perimeter, which was made of sandbags, then detonated his explosives when he reached the concrete wall a few yards (meters) away from the building, according to local police.

The attack occurred about 6:30 a.m. at the Mahta police station in central Mosul, police Maj. Jassim al-Jubouri said.

He said the seven killed included four policemen and three civilians and most of the casualties were in the partly destroyed police station. Two hospital officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information, confirmed the casualty toll.

Tuesday’s bombing is the latest in a string of attacks in Iraq this month that has raised fears insurgents are trying to regroup as the U.S. prepares to leave Iraqi cities in three months and the entire country by the end of 2011.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. But vehicle bombings are the signature attacks of suspected Sunni insurgents who remain active in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.

The No. 2 U.S. military commander in Iraq acknowledged earlier this month that problems in Mosul “can put us off track and cause violence to really re-ignite in a greater way.”

Iraqi security forces have increasingly been targeted in attacks even as the number of slain Americans declines in Iraq, reflecting the changing nature of the fight, with the Iraqis increasingly taking the lead.

At least eight U.S. troop deaths were reported this month _ only half from combat.

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