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Iraq Transition

At least 16 Iraqi police killed in bombings

Bakery attacks also leave 5 dead in Baghdad

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombers struck Iraqi police targets in a string of attacks Thursday that killed at least 16 police officers, including 12 in Tikrit, authorities said.

In other violence, gunmen killed five people in two bakeries in southeastern Baghdad.

In Tikrit, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Baghdad, a suicide car bomb exploded at a police station, killing at least 12 policemen and wounding 29 officers, police said. Tikrit is Saddam Hussein's ancestral homeland.

The attack occurred in a morning roll-call session outside the station, police said. The bomber -- dressed in police officer's garb -- approached a checkpoint near the station, told guards he was an officer who had just transferrred to the unit and flashed fake identification, police said. Allowed to pass, he then drove a white Oldsmobile toward his target.

Police have been regular targets of insurgents, who are trying to sow fear and discord among security forces and potential recruits.

In the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, a roadside bomb killed two Iraqi policemen and wounded three others, said Gen. Torhan Yousif, the city's police chief.

Witnesses said the blast hit a police car near fuel depots in the center of the city close to a primary school.

In Iskandariya in northern Babil province, a suicide car bomb killed two police officers and wounded eight people, police said. Four policemen and four civilians, including a child, were among the wounded.

Police said the blast was targeting police headquarters and nearby offices of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The latter is one of the major parties in the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite Muslim-led coalition that won a slim majority of seats in the National Assembly in last month's election.

Gunmen also killed a police official Wednesday in Baghdad, an emergency police official said. Col. Jameel Najm Abid, director of a passport office, was killed leaving his house in the A'dhamiya neighborhood.

Sectarian tensions suspected

Police suspect the attacks at two Baghdad bakeries may have roots in sectarian tensions between the majority Shiites and Sunnis, who dominated Iraqi life under Saddam's rule.

The bakeries displayed banners related to the holy Shiite month of Muharram.

In one attack, three civilians were killed, including the bakery owner. In the other, two people were killed while waiting in line.

Suspected Sunni insurgents recently have struck businesses linked to Shiites.

Other developments

  • Two U.S. soldiers died in explosions Thursday in regions north of Baghdad, authorities said. A roadside bomb killed a soldier in Qiryat in Diyala province, and improvised explosive devices killed a soldier and wounded two others north of Samarra. U.S. fatalities in the Iraq war stand at 1,486 troops.
  • U.S. forces on Thursday detained 29 insurgents and seized weapons caches during operations throughout Anbar province west of Baghdad. Eighty-seven people have been detained since Operation River Blitz started Sunday.
  • In Baquba, north of Baghdad, Iraqi security forces have captured a suspected terrorist cell leader with links to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the interim government said. The government said Mohammed Najem Ibrahim is responsible for killing Iraqis and staging attacks against security forces. He was seized last month during raids that also netted a large weapons cache and documents.
  • In a sign that political maneuvering for the job of Iraqi prime minister isn't over, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi on Wednesday named a new coalition to challenge Ibrahim al-Jaafari for the post. On Tuesday, the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance announced the candidacy of al-Jaafari, leader of the religious Dawa Party.
  • The longtime head of Iraq's defunct oil-for-food program asked the United Nations on Wednesday for more time to appeal his suspension over allegations of unethical conduct. Benan Sevan and another senior U.N. official, Joseph Stephanides, were informed of their suspensions two weeks ago. (Full story)
  • CNN's Arwa Damon, Kianne Sadeq and Zoran Stevanovic contributed to this report.

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