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Iraq Transition

Scores choke in poison gas attack

Story Highlights

NEW: British media report that PM will detail pullout timeline Wednesday
• Six dead, scores poisoned in toxic blast in Iraqi town of Taji
• 13 people killed in four newly reported Iraq attacks, police say
• Outpost ambush kills two U.S. troops, eight Iraqi police, officials say
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A cloud of deadly toxic gas engulfed an Iraqi town Tuesday, killing six people and leaving dozens of others choking on fumes after a tanker carrying chlorine exploded outside a restaurant.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said the blast in the town of Taji, 12 miles (20 km) north of Baghdad, was caused by a bomb on board the tanker.

There were contrasting figures on the casualty toll. Baghdad security plan spokesman Gen. Qassim Atta told state-run al-Iraqiya TV that five people died in the blast and 148 were poisoned by the gas. (Watch how study says Iraq war has increased terrorism Video)

Other attacks across the country pushed the daily death toll to at least 20. Several incidents occurred in Baghdad, where a major security crackdown has been launched to stem the bloodshed.

The latest violence included:

  • A bomber wearing a suicide vest detonated his explosives in a funeral tent on eastern Baghdad's Palestine Street, killing five and wounding 15 others. The attack took place before 5 p.m.
  • In southwestern Baghdad, a car bomb exploded outside a fuel station in the Sadiya district, killing six people and wounding 11 more, police said.
  • In southern Baghdad, police said, a car bomb exploded near a market in the Rashid district, leaving five dead and seven wounded.
  • In Tikrit, a would-be suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest was shot and killed by authorities outside an Iraqi army recruitment center, police said. Tikrit is about 80 miles north of the Iraqi capital in Salaheddin province.
  • In other developments, Iraqi police reported finding 20 bodies across Baghdad on Monday.

    Among these, an attack by three suicide car bombers near a U.S.-Iraqi outpost killed two American soldiers and eight Iraqi police officers, Iraqi officials told CNN.

    The U.S. military confirmed the American deaths and said 17 U.S. troops were wounded in the "coordinated attack" north of Baghdad, but it did not reveal the strike's exact location.

    Iraqi officials said the insurgents targeted Iraqi police headquarters in Tarmiya -- about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Baghdad -- which also houses U.S. troops.

    After a series of three suicide car bombings, 50 gunmen opened fire on the outpost, the Iraqi officials said.

    Insurgents fired small arms and threw grenades after an initial car bombing, a U.S. military official said.

    The site, which is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Baghdad, has been secured and the incident is under investigation, according to the U.S. military.

    The latest deaths bring to 3,140 the number of U.S. military personnel, including seven Department of Defense civilians, killed in the Iraq war.

    The ambush comes as about 112,000 U.S. and Iraqi forces continue a Baghdad security crackdown dubbed "Fardh Al-Qanoon," or "Enforcing the Law."

    Meanwhile, British media reported that Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday will tell Parliament of his plans to order nearly half of the 7,000 British troops in Iraq home by the end of 2007. (Watch how Blair is facing pressure at home Video)

    In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that while Britain would keep a "robust force" in southern Iraq, "We're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis." (Full story)

    CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this story.


    story.iraqtoxic.afp.gi.jpg

    A man is treated with oxygen after inhaling chlorine fumes from an exploded gas tanker.

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