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Car bomb explodes near Allawi party headquarters

Baghdad blast kills at least 2 Iraqi police officers

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi
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A car bomb detonates near the political party headquarters of Iraq's interim leader.

U.S. troops work to armor vehicles before they're sent to Iraq.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb attack near the political party headquarters of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi killed at least two Iraqi police officers Monday.

A U.S. military spokesman said three Iraqi police officers were killed in addition to the bomber. But in a written statement, the Iraqi Police Services said two police were killed and 12 people wounded, including seven officers.

A hospital reported receiving three bodies.

An orange and white vehicle loaded with explosives tried to ram through a police checkpoint, the U.S. spokesman said.

The police statement said Iraqi officers shot at the vehicle, preventing the driver from crashing through the checkpoint.

The explosion did not damage Allawi's Iraqi National Accord headquarters -- which was about 400 yards from the checkpoint, an employee of the party said. Allawi was not near the scene of the blast, the employee said.

The street where the party headquarters is located also houses offices of many other political leaders.

The militant group Jaish Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for the attack, citing Iraq's January 30 elections.

In an unverified claim posted on its Web site, the group said it launched the attack "as the infidels were preparing to have a meeting to discuss the elections." The group said it killed guards who were protecting the building.

Jaish Ansar al-Sunna has claimed responsibility for previous attacks in Iraq, including a December 21 bombing that killed 22 people at a U.S. base near the northern city of Mosul. (Full story)

The Web site message warned of future attacks: "We will finish you one at a time."

Earlier Monday, a suicide bomb attack killed four Iraqi soldiers and wounded 14 other people at a checkpoint in Balad, north of Baghdad, a U.S. military spokesman said.

A car bomb later exploded Monday afternoon at a checkpoint west of Baghdad's so-called Green Zone, a heavily guarded area that contains Iraqi government offices and the U.S. Embassy and military headquarters.

An American military official said the blast hit a three-vehicle civilian convoy. There was no immediate word of casualties.

The bomb exploded at a checkpoint used by Green Zone personnel to get to and from Baghdad's airport, officials said.

A fourth bomb attack Monday wounded two U.S. soldiers riding in a humvee along a northern Baghdad road, the military said.

On Sunday, suicide car bombers rammed a bus carrying Iraqi national guard troops near Balad, killing 21 soldiers and a nearby woman, a U.S. military spokeswoman said.

The bus was attacked outside a U.S.-led coalition base about 45 miles (72 kilometers) from the Iraqi capital. Four soldiers also were wounded in the blast, the American military said. Two insurgents were reported dead.

The attacks are the latest against Iraqi authorities, including soldiers, police and politicians, in advance of this month's elections. U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned insurgents would likely step up attacks in an attempt to derail the elections.

Iraqi voters are expected to choose a 275-member transitional national assembly. That body will put together a permanent constitution that will go before voters in a referendum. If the law is approved, the plan calls for elections for a permanent government.

Insurgent attacks have prompted calls from many Iraqis to delay the January vote. Iraq's interim government and the United States appear determined to leave the date unchanged.

For the third time in two months, the electoral commission in Mosul has resigned, said Kahsro Goran, deputy governor of Nineveh province.

Goran said Sunday that the election outlook for his region had "significant problems."

"We have to have elections, but the security situation is deteriorating," Goran said. "So there will not be real and fair participation."

Particularly problematic, Goran said, is the lack of a police force in Mosul. Of the city's original 14,000 officers, he said, the number has fallen to 600 active policemen.

Last week, the Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading voice of Iraq's minority Sunni Muslims, announced it was pulling out of -- but not boycotting -- the elections.

In a statement, party director Tariq al-Hashimy said one reason for the withdrawal was "the need to provide the proper security conditions in order to hold an honest and free elections." (Full story)

Other developments

  • An ambulance driver died Sunday after evacuating five children who were wounded in clashes on Baghdad's Haifa Street, a hospital spokesman said. After rescuing the children, the driver, Sabeeh Qati, returned to the scene to help more wounded but was killed in crossfire from unknown gunfighters, the spokesman said.
  • Insurgents attacked an Iraqi police patrol Sunday in Samarra, killing four police and wounding another, U.S. Army spokesman Maj. Neal O'Brien said. Samarra is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon and Mohammad Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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