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Iraq attacks injure 33 U.S. troops, officials say

Police: Blasts at Baghdad mosque kill 3 Iraqis

The U.S. military is investigating why a helicopter made an unexpected landing Tuesday near the central Iraqi town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.
The U.S. military is investigating why a helicopter made an unexpected landing Tuesday near the central Iraqi town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

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Two more suicide attacks in Iraq that wounded at least 33 American soldiers.
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CNN's Jane Arraf on a blast at a Baghdad mosque and car bomb near Mosul.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombings at two U.S. bases in northern Iraq wounded at least 33 American soldiers Tuesday -- attacks that occurred less than three hours apart, U.S. military officials said.

In the first attack, an apparent suicide bomber tried to ram a car through the main gate of the U.S. Army's 101 Airborne Division base at Tall'Afar when the vehicle exploded, wounding 31 American soldiers, U.S. military officials said.

Col. Michael Linnington, commander of the 3rd Brigade of the 101st, said eight soldiers had been taken to medical facilities. He said the blast left a sizable crater in the ground and shattered glass in buildings surrounding the area.

According to Maj. Trey Cate with the 101st, most of the injuries were from flying debris and glass and none of them were considered life threatening. He said that a few others with minor wounds -- cuts, scratches and the like -- may have contributed to the higher counts of injuries reported earlier.

"The vehicle, what we believe to be a car of some type, attempted to gain entrance to the compound," Cate said. "It was fired upon by our security forces and detonated."

The attack took place between 6 and 7 a.m. at the base about 40 miles (60 kilometers) west of Mosul. Cate said the bombing is under investigation.

In the second attack -- about 8:30 a.m. -- a suicide bomber approached a gate at Forward Operating Base Thunder in Ba'qubah -- about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad -- pretending to be ill, a military source said.

When troops did not come to his aid, the man detonated himself, wounding two soldiers, who are being treated for what the source described as superficial wounds.

U.S.-led coalition forces also are investigating two explosions Tuesday morning at a mosque in the al-Herea neighborhood of northern Baghdad. The blasts killed at least three Iraqis and wounded several others, Iraqi police said.

Dr. Ahmed Hussein Al Dabash, a cleric at the Sunni mosque, said he believes it was an rocket-propelled grenade attack, noting they have received threats previously.

"I blame the Americans for planting hatred among the Muslims," the cleric said.

Meanwhile, Japan's Cabinet has approved a controversial plan to send noncombat troops to Iraq to help with reconstruction efforts, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's office said. (Full story)

The decision follows the November 29 deaths of two Japanese diplomats, who were shot in an armored vehicle.

Plans to send more than 1,000 troops were delayed last month after a bomb attack on an Italian military police headquarters in Iraq that killed 19 Italians and 14 others.

Other developments

• The U.S. military is investigating why a helicopter made an unexpected landing Tuesday near the central Iraqi town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, a coalition military source said. "We now believe the helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing," the source said. The two people aboard were uninjured, he said. There was suspicion of small-arms fire before the landing, the source. He described the aircraft as an OH-58 observation helicopter with the 82nd Airborne Division.

• U.S. Central Command said Tuesday that three U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in Iraq in an accident involving Strykers, the Army's newest fighting vehicles. Initially, two soldiers were reported dead. One soldier also was injured. The Pentagon said earlier that a bridge collapsed, overturning the Stryker vehicles. Central Command said that the Strykers rolled into a canal. The accident took place north of Balad, Central Command said.

• The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council voted Monday to create a human rights tribunal to prosecute those who committed atrocities and other crimes under Saddam Hussein's regime. (Full story)

CNN's Jane Arraf and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

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