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Insurgents storm police station, free 30 detainees

At least 19 people killed in attack north of Baghdad

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- About 100 insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns stormed a police station in Diyala province Tuesday, killing at least 15 officers and freeing about 30 detainees.

Insurgents also seized police weapons and radios and destroyed at least 20 cars, including a number of police vehicles.

An official from the Diyala Joint Coordination Center said 18 police and one insurgent were killed. Nine people were wounded, including seven police officers. Two of the 18 dead were described as high-ranking police officers.

The U.S. military said 15 police and 11 insurgents died, and four police and two insurgents were wounded.

The incident took place in the town of Muqdadiya, 65 miles north of Baghdad and about 25 miles north of Baquba, the capital of a province that has endured much insurgent violence.

Elements of the U.S. military's 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the 205th Iraqi Army responded to the attack with support from helicopters, said Maj. Tim Keefe, spokesman for the U.S. military.

One U.S. soldier was wounded when insurgents fired on them as they arrived.

Insurgent munitions have been recovered, Keefe said.

Senators press Iraqi politicians

A delegation of U.S. senators visiting Iraq said Tuesday they told transitional Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to stop "dawdling" and reach a prompt political settlement.

"Our continuing presence here is dependent upon their reaching a prompt political settlement," said Sen. Carl Levin, the Republican chairman and the ranking Democrat of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (Full story)

President Bush, speaking at a White House news conference Tuesday, said he was encouraged that Iraqi lawmakers were forming a council that gives each of the country's religious and ethnic groups a voice in making policy.

"It's an indicator that Iraq's leaders understand the importance of a government of national unity," he said. (Full story)

Also in Iraq prodding leaders was British Defense Secretary John Reid, who said Monday that a power vacuum in Iraq is fueling the ongoing violence there.

"Terrorists love a political vacuum, so the formation of a government of national unity is more urgent today than it has ever been," Reid said during his weekend visit.

Last week, Reid announced that Britain will withdraw 800 -- or 10 percent -- of its nearly 8,000 troops in Iraq by the end of May. British troops make up the second-largest force in Iraq, second only to the 130,000-strong U.S. contingent.

Other developments

  • A U.S. soldier was killed by small arms fire Tuesday while patrolling in western Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The soldier is from the Multi-National Division-Baghdad. The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war is 2,316.
  • Five bodies were found Tuesday in the Jamiya neighborhood in western Baghdad, police said. The victims had been shot in the head, an official said, and their hands were tied behind their backs and their bodies showed signs of torture. The number of bodies found in Baghdad over the past nine days has surpassed 190. Officials believe many of the deaths are linked to sectarian violence over the past month.
  • A car bomb exploded Tuesday in Mosul near a funeral procession, killing an Iraqi civilian and wounding four others, police said. The funeral was for Radd al-Assali, deputy head of oil productions in Mosul, who was shot near his house Monday.
  • Army and Air Force personnel have recovered the wreckage of an unmanned Air Force MQ-1 Predator that crashed early Tuesday in Iraq and are investigating the cause of the crash, the U.S. military said. The $5-million aircraft's primary mission is "interdiction and armed reconnaissance," and it was based with the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron at Balad Air Base north of Baghdad, the military said.
  • CNN's Mohammad Tawfeeq and Arwa Damon contributed to this report.

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