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Car Bomb Kills Six In Western Iraq

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Reuters) - A car bomb in a market killed six people on August 2 in western Iraq's Anbar Province, a health official said, the latest in a string of attacks in the former Sunni Arab insurgent heartland.

The blast in Haditha, 190 kilometers west of Baghdad, wounded 21 people, said the doctor in a local hospital that received the bodies and casualties.

Police said they only knew of four killed.

Several high-profile bombings hit Anbar last month, prompting a rare temporary vehicle ban across the desert province, Iraq's largest.

A week ago, a suicide bomber killed four people at a funeral tent in the Anbar city of Fallujah. A day earlier, a car bomb killed five people there. On July 21, the provincial capital Ramadi declared a state of emergency after bombs killed three people.

Anbar, once an Al-Qaeda haven and the center of a raging Sunni Arab insurgency, had been relatively quiet for months after tribal leaders in 2006 turned on the Sunni Islamist militants dominating the region.

The Haditha blast came two days after a series of apparently coordinated bomb attacks near Shi'ite mosques in Baghdad killed 31 people and wounded scores.

Violence has fallen sharply overall in Iraq in the last 18 months, and the number of civilians killed in July fell to 224 from 373 a month earlier, the Health Ministry said on August 1.

But insurgents are still able to launch frequent large-scale attacks, raising questions about the Iraqi security forces' ability to cope alone after U.S. troops withdrew from urban centers in June, part of an agreement to leave Iraq by 2012.

Anbar's governor denied that violence was on the rise.

"These blasts do not raise our fears or make us worry. What is going on in Anbar pPovince is the same as what is going on in [other parts of] Iraq," Anbar governor Qassim al-Fahdawi said.

"There will be no return of terrorists to our province in any way. The capabilities of our forces are increasing and their [the terrorists'] strength is decreasing," he said.