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SLUG: 2-324554 Iraq (L)
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HEADLINE: Insurgents in Iraq Stage More Deadly Attacks
INTRO: Insurgents in Iraq have struck at police and military targets in a series of morning attacks (Wednesday) that killed more than 60 people and wounded more than 100 others. As Neil MacDonald reports for VOA, one suicide car bomber detonated an explosive-packed vehicle in a crowded civilian market.
TEXT: The explosion, in deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, killed mostly civilians, after
guards prevented the bomber from driving into a police station.
Police say the suicide attacker instead swerved his vehicle into a small local market. The bombing is the latest in a wave of intensified insurgent activity since the formation of Iraq's new government nearly two weeks ago.
Elsewhere in western Iraq, another suicide bomber attacked an army recruiting center in Hawija, a heavily Sunni Arab town in the southwest of Kirkuk province, inflicting heavy casualties among new recruits.
A third bomber set off a smaller explosion at a police station in the south Baghdad district of Dorra.
The attacks came as U.S. and Iraqi forces, supported by U.S. air power, continued an offensive against insurgent
bases in Iraq's western desert along the Syrian border.
U.S. troops, mostly Marines, launched the offensive on Sunday in the area around Qaim. Military officials say more than 100 insurgents have been killed in the offensive.
The town is known as a stronghold for insurgents attached to Jordanian militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Last year an American-led offensive pushed many of the rebels out of Falluja, in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province.
The Syrian border is the suspected route of entry for many foreign fighters, including the bulk of suicide bombers.
In apparent retaliation for the latest U.S.-led offensive, militants loyal to Zarqawi have kidnapped the governor of Anbar, Raja Nawaf, along with four of his bodyguards.
The militants demanded the release of other Zarqawi followers that are being held by the governor's tribe.
U.S. diplomats say they hope to undercut tribal support for Zarqawi's network by persuading Sunni Arabs to join Iraq's political process.
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Sunni Arabs have accepted several posts in Iraq's new cabinet.
Following difficult negotiations, Shia and Kurdish leaders agreed to give the key defense ministry post to Sunni Arab sociologist Saadoun Dulaimi. (SIGNED)
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