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Iraqi Suicide, Car Bombings Kill 30, Wound Dozens


BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Blasts at Baghdad's police academy and in the northern city of Mosul have killed 30 people and wounded dozens more, hours after a roadside bomb wounded a senior Iraqi official, police said.

Violence has fallen sharply over the last year as successive security crackdowns dealt insurgent groups a heavy blow, but officials say militants are now concentrating their efforts on attention-grabbing attacks ahead of elections next year.

People were queuing at the back entrance of the police academy in east Baghdad to enroll when a car bomb exploded, followed minutes later by a suicide bomb attack, police said. Fifteen people were killed and 45 wounded, they said.

The attacks left a crater near the academy, and wallets containing identification cards required for enrollment lay scattered on the road, Reuters television footage showed.

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Ata al-Musawi said 11 people were killed. The U.S. military said the suicide attack came first, the bomber's ball-bearing and explosives-packed vest killing six people. The car bomb exploded about 150 meters away, killing no one, the U.S. military said.

Body counts given by Iraqi police and the U.S. military frequently differ.

Shortly after the Baghdad attacks, police said a suicide car bomber and a car bomb killed 15 people and wounded 37 in Mosul, which officials say is the last holdout for Al-Qaeda and other insurgents. They had once controlled swathes of Iraq.

The attack in Mosul targeted an Iraqi police and U.S. military joint patrol, police said. The U.S. military said nine Iraqis had been killed, but no U.S. troops. Mosul's main hospital said it had received 15 bodies.

Iraq In Transition

The blasts came as Iraq tries to prepare its security forces to take over responsibility from U.S. troops, who under a security pact passed by parliament on November 27 will have to withdraw from towns by mid-2009 and leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

The Iraqi government is also in the process of taking responsibility for largely Sunni neighborhood patrolmen -- who number some 100,000 across Iraq -- from the U.S. military, while getting ready for provincial elections on January 31.

The attacks are likely aimed at reigniting sectarian bloodshed between minority Sunni Arabs who dominated Iraq under ex-dictator Saddam Hussein and Shi'a who are now in control.

Near the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, bitterly contested by Arabs, Kurds, and Turkomans, police said they had found a grave containing 12 unidentified bodies. Some had been burned and some had bullet wounds.

Earlier, Major General Mudhar al-Mawla, an official dealing with the transfer of patrolmen to government control, was targeted by a roadside bomb as his convoy left his home in north Baghdad's Sulaikh district. The bomb killed three people and wounded 13 others, police said.

Al-Mawla was also seriously wounded, they said.

Security spokesman al-Musawi said only one bodyguard had been killed in the blast and six people wounded. Al-Mawla was only slightly wounded, he added.

Iraqi government data showed 296 Iraqis died violent deaths in November, up from 238 in October. Only six U.S. troops were killed, the lowest monthly toll since they invaded Iraq in 2003.