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27 killed in Baghdad suicide blast

Report of deaths of detainees in Iraqi custody investigated


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle Wednesday near a U.S. military convoy and a large group of Iraqi children in Baghdad, killing 27 people, Iraqi police and hospital officials said.

Iraqi police said most of the dead were children. The attack also left 20 people wounded.

The U.S. military said at least seven children and a U.S. soldier died in the attack. Three U.S. soldiers were wounded.

The soldiers were handing out treats to the children when the bomb went off, police said.

The attack -- which happened around 10:50 a.m. (2:50 a.m. ET) in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood of al-Jaddeda -- also set a nearby house on fire, police said.

"The car bomber made a deliberate decision to attack one of our vehicles as the soldiers were engaged in a peaceful operation with Iraqi citizens," Maj. Russ Goemaere said in a statement. "The terrorist undoubtedly saw the children around the Humvee as he attacked. The complete disregard for civilian life in this attack is absolutely abhorrent."

Since the start of the war, 1,756 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

In another suicide attack, a bomber detonated his explosives late Tuesday inside the al-Kebir Sunni Mosque in the ethnically mixed city of Jalawlah, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Baquba, killing two people and wounding 16 others, police said.

According to a police official, the bomber was wearing an explosives-packed vest.

Jalawlah is a mixed town of Kurds and Arabs.

Meanwhile, insurgents launched four separate attacks Wednesday on Iraqi police, three of them in western Baghdad neighborhoods.

One member of a quick-reaction team was killed by gunmen in Ameri on his way to work, police said.

About 30 minutes later, a gunman opened fire on a police patrol in Mansur, wounding one, police said. Later, at about 10 a.m., two police officers and three civilians were wounded in a gunfight in Nafaq al Shurta.

The fourth attack happened in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where drive-by gunmen opened fire on an Iraqi police station, killing one civilian, according to a U.S. military news release.

Attacks in northern Iraq have killed 16 civilians and wounded 64 others over the past two weeks, according to the military.

On Tuesday, gunmen killed Ali Younis al-Shama, the head of the International Organization of Iraqi Human Rights, and three others in his office.

Report of detainee deaths investigated

Iraq's interior minister Wednesday expressed outrage at reports on the deaths of detainees while in the custody of Iraq's special police commandos.

"I will not tolerate any human rights abuses by any member of the Ministry of Interior forces," Baqir Jabbur said in a written statement. "Any person or persons who are found to be guilty of such behavior will be fired and punished to the fullest extent allowed by law."

The police officers involved in the alleged incident were immediately suspended and taken into custody pending a full investigation, Jabbur said.

According to police sources, police commandos arrested 12 Iraqi men at a Baghdad hospital on Sunday and took them into custody.

Eleven of the men had brought the other to the hospital after he was injured in a skirmish between insurgents and Iraqi and U.S. forces in Baghdad's Amiriya neighborhood, the sources said.

Later that day, the commandos returned to the hospital, bringing with them the bodies of nine of the men, the police sources said. They also brought the other three, who were unconscious, the sources said.

While the circumstances of the detainees' deaths are not entirely clear, sources said the 12 men were locked in a police van for several hours and the dead may have suffocated.

Other developments

  • A man described as a "significant operative" in the network of Iraqi terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was captured Monday in Baghdad, U.S. military officials told CNN. The man, identified as Abu Abd al-Aziz, is believed to be the leader of al-Zarqawi's organization in Baghdad, the officials said.
  • Two Iraqi civilians were killed and another seven wounded when a parked car bomb exploded Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Kirkuk's northern industrial neighborhood, said Kirkuk's police chief Brig. Gen. Shirko Shakir Hakeem.
  • One Iraqi civilian was killed and another nine were wounded in an attack in Tal Afar near the Syrian border Tuesday, the U.S. military said.
  • CNN's Kevin Flower, Enes Dulami, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Odai Sadik contributed to this report.

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