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Iraq Transition

Blast kills 16 at Falluja recruiting office

Thirty-four bodies found in Baghdad in past two days



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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents embarked on deadly attacks across Iraq on Wednesday, killing 16 people at a police recruitment center in Falluja, an American civilian contractor near Nasiriya and a police officer in Baquba.

In Baghdad, 14 bodies were found, the latest corpses to turn up on the streets of the capital since Sunni-Shiite sectarian fighting escalated in February after the bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have been saying the formation of a new government would eventually help establish law and order. (Watch how the wrong name can get you killed in Iraq -- 2:01)

But daily insurgent attacks persist as Iraq's prime minister-designate works to form a Cabinet and parliament meets.

Police and hospital officials said that along with the 16 dead in Falluja 25 were wounded by the suicide bomber, who detonated a vest of explosives.

"The insurgent walked toward a group of civilians gathered at the entrance to the checkpoint" before blowing himself up, according to a U.S. military news release.

The statement said the center reopened about an hour after the attack.

"The fact that an overwhelming number of recruits arrived immediately after the attack signifies the local rejection of the intimidation and terrorism," said Marine Col. Larry D. Nicholson, commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 5, which is based at Camp Falluja.

The goal was to sign up 100 recruits, the military said, and the goal was exceeded. At the time of the bombing, 65 had signed up and 88 more enrolled after the bombing, the military said.

Falluja is about 35 miles (56 kilometers west of Baghdad in Anbar province -- the Sunni-dominated region that has been a hotspot for insurgent attacks.

Some observers say Sunni Arab insurgents are attempting to intimidate other Sunnis to keep them from joining the indigenous police forces.

Anbar is a wide swath of land that stretches to Iraq's borders with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Its two main cities are Falluja and Ramadi, the provincial capital, where 10 civilians were killed Tuesday when a suicide car bomber attacked a convoy carrying the governor.

A U.S. military source said Gov. Mamoun Sami Rashid was unharmed and returned to work at the governor's compound in Ramadi after the attack.

Six people were wounded, including three bodyguards and a U.S. Marine later returned to his unit.

Marines regularly escort the governor to and from work in Ramadi, the source said. At least 29 attempts have been made against his life in the past nine months, including Tuesday's attack, according to the source.

Fourteen bodies found in Baghdad

The bodies of 14 men found Wednesday in northern Baghdad brought to 34 the number of corpses found in the past two days.

The 14 victims found Wednesday all had their hands tied, showed signs of torture and had been shot in the head, authorities said.

On Tuesday, Iraqi authorities found 20 unidentified bodies -- some of whom had been blindfolded -- in various Baghdad neighborhoods, Iraqi police said.

Since the February 22 bombing of the Shiite Askariya Mosque in Samarra intensified the fierce tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, scores of bodies have been found with similar signs of torture in neighborhoods in and around Baghdad.

The mosque attack set off a wave of Shiite reprisals and Sunni counter-reprisals that caused hundreds of deaths and strikes on mosques.

Other developments

  • A U.S. soldier died Wednesday in a non-combat related incident, the military said. The incident took place at 4:30 p.m., and the soldier was attached to Multinational Division-Baghdad, it said. The death brought the number of American troops and military-connected civilians killed in the Iraq war to 2,406.
  • A U.S. civilian contractor was killed and two others were wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb Wednesday near the southern city of Nasiriya, a British military spokesman said.
  • Iraq's lawmakers held their third session, focusing on routine business. Politicians formed two committees that will develop rules and procedures for the operation of the 275-member body.
  • A bomb at a market in a mostly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad wounded at least 17 people Wednesday, police said.
  • At least 36 people have been detained in an Iraqi military sweep in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the U.S. military said Wednesday in news release. U.S. troops from Task Force Band of Brothers were providing a security ring for Operation Lion's Hunt, which was in its fourth day.
  • In western Baquba, gunmen killed a police officer and wounded another when they opened fire on a patrol late Wednesday morning, police said.
  • In southern Baghdad, four college students were pulled from a minibus and shot to death at a fake checkpoint set up by gunmen, police said.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon, Jennifer Deaton, Cal Perry and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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