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Iraq Transition

Five killed in mosque blast north of Baghdad

Four bakery workers, 3 police also slain in capital

Worshippers exit a Sunni mosque Friday in Baghdad under the protection of Iraqi soldiers.


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



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A bomb exploded Friday outside a Sunni mosque north of Baghdad as worshippers were leaving midday prayers, killing five people and wounding 17, police said.

The bomb exploded outside the Sa'ad bin Abiwakkas mosque in Khalis, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of the capital in Diyala province.

Earlier Friday, gunmen killed four workers and wounded one at a bakery in southwest Baghdad, police said. The attackers left behind a package that exploded when an investigator opened it, killing the officer and wounding another one, police said.

Also Friday, an attack on a police patrol in western Baghdad killed two police officers and wounded a third, police said.

Another seven people were found bound and shot to death with signs of torture on a road in northeastern Baghdad, police said.

Hundreds of people have been slain in similar fashion in recent weeks, victims of apparent Shiite-Sunni sectarian strife. Such violence has increased since last month's bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra.

Ex-captives to head home

Three Western Christian aid workers rescued after nearly four months of captivity in Iraq are preparing to return to their homes. (Watch how coalition forces acted quickly in the rescue -- 2:41)

The men -- found bound but unguarded in a Baghdad house -- will be flown out of the Iraqi capital in the next few days, officials said.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the BBC there was "no deal whatsoever" to free the trio, welcoming the "good fortune and luck" that allowed them to be rescued alive.

After the rescue, Briton Norman Kember, 74, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 -- members of the aid group Christian Peacemaker Teams -- were taken to the British Embassy in Baghdad's high-security Green Zone.

Kember's wife, Pat, said she was thrilled at the news of her husband's release but called his decision to go to Iraq "a bit silly." (Full story)

A fourth member of the group -- American Tom Fox -- was found shot in the head with signs of torture this month.

But the rescue of the three Christian aid workers has raised hopes among family and friends of abducted U.S. journalist Jill Carroll that she also can be freed. (Full story)

Insurgent surge

Friday's mosque attack and other violence came a day after four car bombs exploded in Baghdad, three of them killing 33 people, according to Iraqi police.

At least 13 of the dead were police officers, police said. No one was killed in the fourth car bombing. (Full story)

In a news conference Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch blamed the surge of attacks on insurgents intent on derailing Iraqi efforts to form a national unity government.

Political leaders continue to quarrel over the new government's makeup. They met Friday in Baghdad and plan to meet again Saturday.

Other developments

  • Two U.S. soldiers were killed Thursday in Iraq's Anbar province, the U.S. military said. The two were assigned to the 2-28 Brigade Combat Team and died as a result of "enemy action" in the sprawling Sunni-dominated province west of Baghdad. Since the Iraq war began in 2003, 2,321 U.S. troops have died.
  • Iraqi soldiers were conducting a search Friday for suspected terrorists in the Kirkuk area of northern Iraq, the U.S. military said. Soldiers from the 1st and 5th battalions of the Iraqi army's 2nd Brigade moved through five villages in an offensive dubbed Operation Scorpion.
  • The British military reported Friday that a Danish soldier died and another was wounded in a roadside bombing near the southern city of Basra.
  • CNN's Mike Mount, Cal Perry and Auday Sadik contributed to this report.

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