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Iraq Transition

Insurgents kill 19 in Iraq clash

SPECIAL REPORT

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- -- Insurgents killed 19 people Thursday southeast of Baghdad in a battle with Shiite militia members and Iraqi police, police said.

The clashes occurred in the town of Khazaliya after members of the Mehdi Army militia asked police to help them free a kidnapped member.

Police said 17 militia members and two police officers were killed.

The Mehdi militia is affiliated with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose forces fought U.S. troops early in the insurgency until reaching a truce with the American-led coalition.

In other violence Thursday, a suicide car bomb exploded near a U.S. military convoy in the south-central part of Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding four others, a Baghdad emergency police official said.

The explosion took place about 7:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m. ET) outside the National Theater building.

Two local police officers in Baquba north of Baghdad were killed in separate incidents Thursday. In addition, an Iraqi police officer was shot and killed Thursday driving to work in southern Baghdad's Dora neighborhood.

Three U.S. soldiers also were killed in separate attacks, the military said Thursday.

A soldier was killed and four others wounded Thursday near Ashraf when insurgents attacked their patrol with a bomb and small-arms fire.

On Wednesday, a roadside bomb hit a convoy in east Baghdad, killing two Task Force Baghdad soldiers, the military said.

The number of U.S. troops to die in the Iraq war stands at 2,004.

Other developments

  • Abductors freed a Ministry of Agriculture worker Wednesday, a day after she was kidnapped with two engineers, police said. Ylmaz Mohammed Jaffer, the sister of Iraqi Construction and Housing Minister Jassim Mohammed Jaffer, was abducted on a road between Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk. The engineers were not released, police said.
  • Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime received about $1.8 billion in illicit payments under the U.N. oil-for-food program, a U.N.-backed independent report said Thursday. (Full story)
  • Three Sunni Arab groups announced Wednesday that they were forming a coalition to compete in the December 15 election for the National Assembly, Sunni officials said. (Full story)
  • CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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