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Blast kills 7 Iraqi police recruits

Bremer: Iraqi governing council could come in two weeks

A pair of shoes lies at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Ramadi.
A pair of shoes lies at the scene of Saturday's explosion in Ramadi.

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

RAMADI, Iraq (CNN) -- Seven U.S.-trained Iraqi police recruits were killed Saturday morning when an "improvised explosive device" detonated in Ramadi, about 75 miles west of Baghdad, according to coalition authorities in Baghdad.

At least 13 people were wounded in the blast, U.S. military sources in Ramadi told CNN. The recruits had been close to graduating from their training program.

The recruits were walking from their school to police headquarters at the time of the blast, witnesses said. The explosion occurred as the recruits passed a street light. (Gallery: Explosion at Ramadi)

Motorists stopped to pick up the wounded and took them to the hospital.

The city has strong ties to Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party.

Many people said they blamed U.S. forces for the explosion, but the local police chief denied that, saying he thought there was an effort to create tension between the U.S. forces and the police.

The blast came a day after the Arabic language television network Al-Jazeera broadcast an audiotape said to have been made by ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The voice on the tape said it was recorded June 14 and urges the Iraqi population to support the resistance. The speaker refers to actions "related to confronting the enemy and the aggression."

"No recent days and weeks have passed without the blood of the infidels being shed on our pure land as a result of the jihad of the mujahedeen. What the coming days will bring will be, with God's help, hard on the infidel invaders and which is a source of honor for the believers," the speaker said, according to a CNN translation of the audiotape that was broadcast on the Arabic-language satellite TV network. (Full story)

On Thursday, the United States announced a $25 million reward for Saddam's capture or confirmation of his death. A $15 million reward each was offered for similar information about Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay. (Hometown view of bounty)

The United States blames remnants of Saddam's government -- Baathists and Republican Guard members -- for many of the attacks that have killed 27 U.S. troops since President Bush declared the end of major combat May 1.

In the latest incident, a U.S. soldier was wounded and two Humvees were damaged Saturday when a grenade was tossed from an overpass at a U.S. military police patrol in central Baghdad.

Bremer: Steps toward government

U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer told reporters Saturday that Saddam's "days are numbered."

"Saddam Hussein is finished," Bremer said. "The Baathist regime is not coming back. And if he is alive, we will capture him."

Bremer said the first step toward formation of a new Iraqi government will be taken soon.

"In the next two weeks I expect to see the creation of an Iraqi governing council with real responsibilities and power. Among them: helping to launch a constitution process that will pave the way for elections," said Bremer.

He said the nation's constitution "will be written by the Iraqi people for the Iraq people"

Other developments

U.S. Army Chief of Staff John Keane -- on a three-day tour of Iraq -- pins a Bronze Star With Valor medal on the chest of Sgt. Thomas Slago of Los Angeles, in Fallujah on Saturday.
U.S. Army Chief of Staff John Keane -- on a three-day tour of Iraq -- pins a Bronze Star With Valor medal on the chest of Sgt. Thomas Slago of Los Angeles, in Fallujah on Saturday.

• U.S. troops detained 11 Turkish soldiers Friday at a Turkish special forces office in northern Iraq, Turkish officials said. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the raid, calling it "an ugly incident" that "should not have happened." There was no immediate U.S. reaction, and it was not clear why the soldiers were detained. A Turkish military and diplomatic delegation left for Sulaimaniya from Silopi, the town at the Iraqi-Turkish border, to investigate further. (Full story)

• President Bush on Friday declared that the country was "still at war" and saluted the efforts of U.S. military men and women during celebrations of the 227th anniversary of America's independence. "The enemies of America plot against us. And many of our fellow citizens are still serving and sacrificing and facing danger in distant places." (Full story)

• Bush's challenge of "bring 'em on" to Iraqis opposed to the U.S.-led occupation has drawn criticism from Democrats, including presidential candidate Dick Gephardt, who said the president should stop the "phony, macho rhetoric." Fleischer said the president was expressing confidence in U.S. troops, not daring Iraqis to attack Americans. (Full story)

• Japan's powerful lower house has given the green light to the nation's biggest foreign military deployment since World War II, passing a law that allows about 1,000 soldiers to be sent to assist in the rebuilding of Iraq. (Full story)

CNN Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf and Correspondents Nic Robertson, John King and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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