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Bombs Kill 14, Wound Many Across Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Bombs killed 14 people across Iraq, police said, including a child hit by a blast outside his primary school in the north of the country.

Pupils were leaving the school when the bomb placed in a cart in the northern city of Mosul was detonated, killing four people and wounding 12.

Some pupils were among the wounded. The blast also killed a 2-year-old girl and two adults in an adjacent market.

The level of violence in Iraq has fallen, but militants frequently demonstrate their ability to carry out lethal attacks.

A spate of bombings in the past few days has come as Iraq prepares its security forces to take responsibility from U.S. troops, set to withdraw from towns by mid-2009 and from Iraq completely by the end of 2011, under a security pact approved by parliament on November 27.

Many attacks are aimed at reigniting violence between minority Sunni Arabs and majority Shi'ites, disrupting preparations for provincial elections in January, or intended to signal rejection of the security pact, officials say.

"We read these bombings as messages," Interior Ministry Media Director Brigadier-General Alaa al-Taie said. "The first message is: 'We are still here.' The second is: They reject the accord. They want to create an atmosphere of fear."

In a second attack, a roadside bomb targeting an army patrol killed five soldiers in Al-Hillah, south of Baghdad, police and a witness said.

"It hit the first vehicle. The whole thing exploded and burned to the ground," witness Ali al-Jubouri told Reuters.

In the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, a car bomb killed five men and wounded 30, including five children, Sabih Hussein, a senior doctor in the city's main hospital, told Reuters.