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Iraq Transition

7 dead in Iraq attacks

Al-Zarqawi aides arrested

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Road Accidents

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Attackers killed seven people -- including three U.S. soldiers -- in separate attacks in the Baghdad area on Friday, a day after a string of attacks targeting Iraqi police.

A roadside bomb exploded in the town of Tarmiya as a convoy passed, killing three Task Force Baghdad soldiers and wounding nine, a spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division said. Tarmiya is about 20 miles north of Baghdad.

Another Task Force Baghdad soldier died Friday in "non-battle injuries."

The incidents bring the number of U.S. troops killed in the war to 1,491.

Three Iraqis were killed in an attack in southeast Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

A roadside bomb killed one person around 9:40 a.m., the military said in a statement, and Iraqi police and Task Force Baghdad members cordoned the area.

Then, "a terrorist fired into the crowd with an unknown weapon," killing two and wounding two, the statement said. The attacker then fled.

In Iskandariya, a restive town in northern Babil province 30 miles south of Baghdad, three masked gunmen fired on a car carrying employees of the al-Hurra television network Friday morning, killing the driver, police said.

"Three masked terrorists" drove up next to the car carrying al-Hurra staff and opened fire, killing the driver instantly, police said.

Al-Hurra reporter Mohammed Sharif was wounded and was taken to a hospital in Hilla, south of Iskandariya, police said. Hilla police sent patrols to the area in an effort to capture the attackers.

An al-Hurra correspondent was killed in Basra earlier this month when a group of masked men opened fire as he stood by a car outside his house while his bodyguards returned inside. Abdul-Hussein Khazal's 3-year-old son, Mohammed, also was hit by gunfire and later died.

On Thursday, insurgents launched attacks against police targets in Tikrit, Iskandariya and Kirkuk, killing at least 16 officers.

The deadliest incident occurred in Tikrit, where a suicide car bomber, dressed as an Iraqi police officer, drove into a police compound and detonated the device.

The blast killed 12 policemen and wounding 29 officers. (Full story)

A Polish soldier and two Iraqi civilians were killed Friday in a traffic accident in Diwaniya, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. It was the 17th Polish fatality during the nearly two-year-long war in Iraq.

Al-Zarqawi aids snared

The Iraqi government Friday reported the arrests of two associates of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a raid earlier this week and a few dozen others in Mosul.

Security forces captured Talib Mikhlif Arsan Walman al-Dulaymi, also known as Abu Qutaybah and a key lieutenant of al-Zarqawi, in a raid Sunday in Anah. Anah is in Al Anbar province not far from the Syrian border.

The government said Abu Qutaybah is a key associate who has "extensive contacts and operational ability" throughout western Iraq.

"Abu Qutaybah was responsible for determining who, when and how terrorist network leaders would meet with al-Zarqawi," the government said.

"Abu Qutaybah filled the role of key lieutenant for the Zarqawi network arranging safe houses and transportation as well as passing packages and funds to al-Zarqawi."

Also captured was Ahmad Khalid Marad Isma'il al-Rawi, also known as Abu Uthman. Officials said he arranged meetings for al-Zarqawi and occasionally acted as his driver.

The al-Zarqawi terror network has been responsible for suicide bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.

In Mosul, Iraqi and U.S. forces have detained "35 individuals suspected of insurgent activity." Mosul is the largest city in northern Iraq.

"Commanders on the ground attribute the rise in insurgent detainments to the increase in information being provided by Iraqi citizens about insurgent activity, the increase in effectiveness of ISF (the Iraqi security forces), and the increase in their operations.

"ISF and MNF (multinational forces) have detained over 75 insurgents and discovered numerous large weapons caches in the last three days alone," the military said in a written statement.

Allawi: Strong support for secular leaders

Iraqi political parties continue to discuss the formation of the new transitional government.

Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a prospective candidate for prime minister, said that as a secular politician, he feels he is more qualified than a religious candidate to help shape the new government.

The United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite-led coalition that won last month's elections for the 275-member transitional National Assembly, has chosen Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be its candidate for prime minister. Al-Jaafari leads the religious Dawa Party.

Allawi's slate of candidates won 40 seats in the elections, but he said he is putting together a coalition of backers that includes some Kurds and United Iraqi Alliance members.

"My slate plus other groups have been putting a lot of pressure and demands that we should put other names forward. And they picked me up again," he said.

Allawi said he believed his position as a secular politician will help him.

"I think this is definitely one of the reasons. I don't believe that political Islam should be ruling Iraq. I think this probably would be problematic."

Al-Jaafari has a reputation as a unifier and someone who is inclined to reach out to other groups, such as Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

CNN's Nic Robertson, Kianne Sadeq and Zoran Stevanovic contributed to this report.

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