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Car bombs, suicide attack kill 17 in northern Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Four car bombs explode in Mosul; 13 killed, including 12 Kurdish troops
  • NEW: Three killed, dozens wounded as suicide bomber hits funeral in nearby Tal Afar
  • British journalist rescued from kidnappers calls Iraqi army "brilliant"
  • U.S. troops kill six "armed criminals" after grenade fire, U.S. military says
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A string of car bombs shook Mosul, northern Iraq's largest city, on Monday, killing 12 Kurdish troops and a civilian and wounding several others, U.S. and Iraqi authorities reported.

In the nearby city of Tal Afar, three people died and nearly three dozen were wounded when a suicide attacker blew himself up at an Iraqi soldier's funeral, the U.S. military reported.

U.S. and Iraqi forces in Mosul have been bearing down on Islamic jihadists loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq for several weeks.

Most of the deaths in the explosions there occurred in the western district of Rabiaa, where the 12 Kurdish Peshmerga militia fighters were killed, the U.S. command in northern Iraq reported. Another five Peshmerga troops were wounded in that attack, the U.S. military said.

Another bomb in central Mosul targeted a U.S. military patrol. The blast killed one civilian and wounded six; there was no word on American casualties.

Iraqi police said two more car bombs were found and detonated in southern Mosul, but two civil defense officials were wounded by the controlled blasts. The U.S. military had a conflicting account, telling CNN the bombs went off and were accompanied by small arms fire, and that an Iraqi police officer was wounded in the attack.

A British journalist kidnapped in February in the southern Iraqi city of Basra was rescued Monday by the Iraqi army. Richard Butler, who works for CBS News, was later handed over to the British military.

Butler described a quick escape after two long months of captivity and "brilliant" work by the Iraqi army. Video Watch Butler enjoy freedom »

The U.S. military said it will release Wednesday an AP journalist who was arrested two years ago for alleged ties to terrorists.

An Iraqi judicial committee dropped legal proceedings against Bilal Hussein last week, saying he should be freed unless other charges were pending.

The military initially said it had more than enough evidence to hold him under a U.N. mandate, but on Monday, Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, deputy commanding general for detainee operations, signed the order for Hussein's release.

Eastern Baghdad, the stretch of the capital where Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops are fighting Shiite militias, endured more fighting over the last 24 hours.

U.S. soldiers killed six Iraqis who were firing grenades at an American patrol in eastern Baghdad late Sunday night, and a U.S. soldier was injured in a roadside bombing Monday that set off a roaring fire at a nearby market, authorities said.

The U.S. military said attackers launched rocket-propelled grenades at American soldiers on patrol Sunday night, and air support was called in to help the soldiers.

"The aircrew witnessed armed criminals hiding behind a parked vehicle and another in an open field. The air weapons team engaged and killed the lone individual.

"Moments later, soldiers in the M1A2 [tank] identified additional armed criminals on the rooftop of a nearby building. The criminals then attacked the soldiers with RPG fire. In self-defense, the tankers engaged the armed men, killing five criminals," the military said.

The U.S. military in recent weeks has taken to labeling targets of military strikes in Iraq's Shiite regions as criminals -- not insurgents, terrorists or militants -- though they may not be charged or tried.

Iraqi and U.S. government officials have differentiated between militia members obeying Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's seven-month cease-fire pledge and gangs, criminals or outlaws that aren't obeying al-Sadr's orders.

Iraq's Interior Ministry and the U.S. military reported the roadside bombing that targeted a U.S. military patrol and caused the raging fire. A ministry official said there were no Iraqi casualties in the incident. He said the blaze broke out at 2 a.m. Monday and firefighters extinguished it hours later. Video Watch wreckage of shops still smoldering »

The military said the explosion "ignited a major fire" at the Ummal market. One U.S. soldier sustained minor injuries and another vehicle was damaged.

In the central section of the city, at least four civilians were killed and 10 others wounded when a bomb placed under a parked car detonated near a gas station Monday, the Interior Ministry said. Video Watch troops inspect debris from car bomb »

The U.S. military said Monday that U.S. troops have killed one person and detained 14 others in raids across northern Iraq and Baghdad targeting al Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgent group.

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One raid against the Sunni group took place Sunday in eastern Baghdad, where troops have been focused in recent days on fighting Shiite militias. Other raids occurred Monday in northern Iraq, where al Qaeda in Iraq has developed a strong presence.

"We will not let up in our mission to dismantle al Qaeda in Iraq," said Cmdr. Scott Rye, Multi-National Forces-Iraq spokesman. "Terrorists have no regard for the law, which the Iraqi people have embraced as a step toward peace." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Yousif Bassil contributed to this report.

All About IraqAl Qaeda in IraqMuqtada al-Sadr

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