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Four killed, 17 hurt in Iraq attacks

New U.S., Iraqi army offensive centered in Ramadi launched

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents in Iraq killed four people and wounded 17 others Saturday in three separate attacks, officials said.

The violence comes as the December 15 general elections to name a new national assembly approach.

In the day's deadliest attack, a blast from a suicide car bomb ripped through a gas station in the Iraqi city of Samarra, killing three people and wounding nine others, according to the city's police chief.

The bombing also destroyed five cars, the chief said. Samarra is north of Baghdad in Salaheddin province.

The attack -- and two others in Baghdad -- came as about 550 U.S. and Iraqi troops launched Operation Tigers in the nation's western Anbar province, the military said.

The offensive is centered in the eastern sector of the city of Ramadi and is the fourth in a "series of disruption operations."

About 400 coalition forces and 150 Iraqi army soldiers are participating in the operation, the military said.

The operation is aimed at stabilizing the region in preparation for Iraq's December 15 general elections to seat a national parliament.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned that militants will keep trying to disrupt the fledgling government's efforts to build a democracy.

The national assembly to be elected in December is charged with appointing a four-year government and would be able to make changes to a constitution that was passed by a national referendum in October.

Another person was killed in an attack when gunmen fired on people pasting up election posters on walls. Three other people were wounded in the attack in al-Amil neighborhood of southwestern Baghdad, an emergency police official said.

Also Saturday, a roadside bomb targeted a U.S. military patrol on Baghdad's west side, wounding a U.S. contractor and four Iraqi civilians, the military said. The patrol was escorting two civilian vehicles when it was attacked about 8:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m. ET), a U.S. military spokesman said. The injuries were minor, the spokesman said, and the injured were taken to a hospital.

Other developments

  • Lawyers for Saddam Hussein will seek a second delay in his trial, which is set to resume Monday, an attorney for the toppled Iraqi leader said Saturday. The attorney, Khames Hameed al-Ubaidi, said the next trial proceeding -- which is expected to last three or four days -- does not provide enough time to do proper legal work. (Full story)
  • A roadside bomb blast near a convoy carrying former Iraqi Interior Minister Falah al-Nakib, on a road between Samarra and Baghdad, failed to strike its apparent target.
  • A U.S. soldier was killed in combat on Friday in western Iraq, the Marines said Saturday. The soldier was "assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward)." He was killed "when his vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against the enemy in Hit," according to a Marine statement. The death brings the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 2,106, according to military reports.
  • The military said Saturday that telecommunication services had been restored to many of the 1.3 million residents of Anbar province after they had been sabotaged. "Insurgents cut al-Anbar's electronic ties to the globe nearly two months ago, but telephone, television and Internet service was restored by the collaborative efforts of provincial government telecommunication officials and Coalition Forces," the military said in a statement.
  • On Friday, four people, including two Iraqi soldiers and two of their relatives, were killed in an attack by gunmen in the town of Hawijah, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) southwest of Kirkuk, the Kirkuk police chief said.
  • The news manager of the Arabic-language satellite television channel Al-Jazeera flew to Britain on Friday to seek an interview with British officials after a British report alleging that the United States wanted to bomb the Arabic network's Qatar headquarters, Reuters reported. The White House has vehemently denied the allegation, and the British government has warned the media against publishing details of an alleged secret memo on which the report was based. (Full story)
  • CNN's Arwa Damon and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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