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Suicide Bombers Strike In Iraq

5 January 2005 -- At least 21 people were killed in three separate suicide bomb attacks in Iraq today.

In Hillah, south of Baghdad, 13 people were killed and 25 wounded when a suicide car bomber blew up his explosives-laden vehicle outside the local police academy.

In Baquba, a suicide bomb attack killed at least five police officers at a roadblock. Eight people were injured.

In Baghdad, two Iraqi civilians and the driver of a car packed with explosives died in a suicide attack targeting a U.S. military convoy.

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted today on the need to proceed with elections planned for 30 January despite what some observers say appears to be a concerted insurgent campaign to disrupt the vote.

"Of course we are aware of the worries which Iraqi citizens have, especially those concerning security," Allawi said. "We will not allow violence, terrorists, and outlaws to stop our development and to stop the political process and destroy the country. The government and I personally encourage all Iraqis to take part in the elections."

Iraq's intelligence chief, Mohammed Abdullah al-Shahwani said between 20,000 and 30,000 armed men were operating throughout Iraq but said he expected armed attacks to decrease and end within a year.

(news agencies)

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