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Insurgents Escalate Attacks Prior To Iraqi Elections

27 January 2005 -- Insurgents using suicide bombs, rockets, and roadside explosives spread violence across Iraq today in a mounting campaign to disrupt elections scheduled for 30 January.

A double suicide attack in the Sunni Muslim triangle north of Baghdad claimed 11 lives. A suicide bomber rammed an Iraqi army patrol. Then, as security forces reacted, a second bomb detonated. Clashes earlier between security forces and insurgents left in the city killed four Iraqi soldiers and a civilian.

A car bomb at a provincial government headquarters in Baquba, north of the capital, killed five people.

Iraq's interim government has canceled all leave for security forces.

The leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, spoke about the attacks today to RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq in Baghdad.

"There are large and strong terrorist groups supported from outside [Iraq] who deploy to create a situation of division, confusion, incitement, and distortion," al-Hakim said.

A number of insurgent attacks targeted polling stations. The Iraqi government said that it will deploy an additional 2,500 troops to help guard the polling and counting stations.It said 9,000 troops will be placed to protect oil pipelines. It has declared as a national holiday the two days before and the two days after the elections.