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Baghdad attack leaves 26 insurgents dead

Iraqi official says politicians close to deal on new government

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. military police killed 26 insurgents who attacked a convoy along a supply route south of Baghdad, a military spokesman said.

The military police were shadowing a convoy traveling south Sunday when 40 to 50 insurgents ambushed with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire in the Salman Pak area, Maj. Rob Simmons said.

Three members of the police unit and seven insurgents were wounded.

The military police recovered munitions and weapons afterward, U.S. officials said.

Simmons said military police were attacked at almost the same location Friday. A driver was killed and five others wounded, he said, but no U.S. soldiers were injured.

Meanwhile, insurgents killed at least seven people Sunday north of Baghdad.

Police said gunmen in Baquba shot dead four police officers and wounded two others at a police station.

Three others also were wounded and a U.S. soldier killed in a roadside bombing Sunday near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq. In addition, an American soldier was killed Sunday during "security and stability operations" in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the military said.

The number of U.S. forces killed in the Iraq war stands at 1,522.

In the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber attacked police headquarters, killing two people, including the city's anti-corruption chief, said Kahsro Goran, deputy governor of Nineveh province. Two people also were wounded, Goran said.

The chief, Walid Kashmoula, was in his office when the bomber walked in and detonated his device, Goran said.

Gridlock denied

Interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that politicians are close to finalizing a deal on the formation of a transitional government.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani said Friday that the National Assembly will reconvene next weekend to vote on the matter.

Zebari said Sunday that a government package could be ready by the end of the month.

"Talks are continuing. They are not bogged down. They are not gridlocked," Zebari said. "We believe we will reach an agreement very soon."

The United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite-led coalition supported by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and a Kurdish bloc were the top winners in the January 30 election. They are trying to work out issues among themselves and reach out to other groups.

Al-Zarqawi sentenced in absentia

A Jordanian court sentenced militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to 15 years in prison for a plot to attack the country's embassy in Iraq, Jordanian officials said Sunday.

The United States has placed a $25 million bounty on the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi. He is accused of fueling the insurgency in Iraq.

Another man, Miqdad al-Dabbas, also was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the plot, officials said. Al-Dabbas was captured in February 2004 in Iraq and extradited to Jordan.

An August 2003 truck bombing on the embassy killed 17 people.

It is al-Zarqawi's second sentencing in absentia in Jordan -- he was sentenced to death for the killing of a U.S. diplomat in 2002. Lawrence Foley, a senior administrative officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, was gunned down in front of his house in Amman. (Full story)

Second anniversary of war

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that the insurgency has been successful in slowing economic and political progress in Iraq.

But two years after the U.S.-led invasion of the country, Rumsfeld maintained that the fighters won't derail the establishment of a new society.

"They haven't stopped it, and they're not going to win," he said. "The thought of their prevailing in this conflict is a terrible thought."

The secretary reflected on the progress and shortfalls in Iraq on Sunday TV talk shows -- ABC's "This Week" and "Fox News Sunday."

"We have 25 million Iraqis that are free. The economy is coming back. The dinar is strong. The schools are open. The hospitals are open," he said.

He spoke optimistically about the deployment of U.S. forces and the development of Iraqi security forces.

Rumsfeld said there could be a temporary increase in U.S. forces at the end of the year, when elections are slated to be held again, but they won't reach the current level of 152,000.

President Bush marked the second anniversary of the war Saturday with a speech defending the U.S.-led invasion.

"Now, because we acted, Iraq's government is no longer a threat to the world or its own people," Bush said in his weekly radio address. (Full story)

Demonstrators held anti-war protests throughout the United States on Saturday. (Full story)

Protesters also recognized the war's anniversary with demonstrations in Japan, Turkey, Greece, Sweden and Britain. (Full story)

CNN's Zoran Stevanovic contributed to this report.

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