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Iraq Transition

At least 134 killed in attacks across Iraq

80 killed in one bombing


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- In the deadliest day in Iraq in nearly four months, at least 134 people were killed and scores were wounded by insurgent-bomb attacks, authorities said Thursday.

In Ramadi, 80 people were killed and dozens wounded when a bomber detonated near an Iraqi police recruitment and screening drive, according to a U.S. Marine news release.

About 1,000 people were waiting in line to apply for positions on the reconstituted Iraqi police force, officials said.

Ramadi is the capital of Anbar province, where, just before the elections, U.S. and Iraqi military forces conducted several operations aimed at rooting out a strong insurgency there.

A blast in Karbala, a Shiite holy city, killed 45 people and wounded dozens more on Thursday morning in a pedestrian mall that runs between the Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas holy shrines, police spokesman Rahman Mishawi said.

The area has been closed off and police are investigating, Mishawi said.

Karbala, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, has been relatively free of violence for the past year.

Among the 134 dead were five U.S. soldiers with Task Force Baghdad, according to a U.S. military news release.

The soldiers were patrolling in the Iraqi capital when their Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb, the release said.

With the deaths, 2,187 U.S. service members have been killed in the Iraq war.

Meanwhile in central Baquba, four police officers were killed and another four were wounded about 9 a.m. when insurgents ambushed a police patrol using small arms fire, authorities said.

Thursday's death toll marks the deadliest day for Iraq since a spate of suicide car bombings and other attacks killed 153 people and wounded more than 300 on September 14.

Asked if the attacks were a sign that the December elections had failed to diminish the insurgency in Iraq, Gen. Peter Pace said the opposite was true.

Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that with each of the country's three elections, voter turnout increased, indicating that "the terrorists failed at each of their primary missions of stopping the vote."

"What's clear to me is that each of the elections has been a major blow to al Qaeda," Pace said at a Pentagon news conference Thursday. "I think what you're seeing now is a continuing attempt to disrupt the proper formation of the Iraqi government, and I'm confident they will fail."

Spike in violence

The attacks marked a second day of widespread violence in Iraq.

The most deadly incident on Wednesday was in Muqdadiya, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber killed 36 people and wounded 40 others at funeral procession, officials said.

Those attending the funeral were on foot when the bomber mixed in among them.

The funeral was for Mohammed al-Bakka, nephew of Ahmed al-Bakka, head of Muqdadiya's Dawa party and director of the town.

Ahmed al-Bakka survived an assassination attempt Tuesday, but a bodyguard and his nephew were killed.

Dawa is the party of Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Earlier Wednesday, five people were killed and 15 wounded in a car bomb attack on an Iraqi police patrol in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kadhimiya. The casualties included police officers and civilians.

A short time later, Iraq police commandos battled insurgents for about 30 minutes in western Baghdad's Gazaliya neighborhood.

The firefight left one commando dead and 17 other people wounded, including 16 commandos.

Also Wednesday, three people died and 11 more were wounded when a parked car bomb remotely detonated in an attack on an Iraqi police commando patrol in southern Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, Baghdad police said.

An Iraqi police commando was among the dead, and six commandos were wounded in the 3 p.m. attack, the official said.

Meanwhile, attackers used rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns Wednesday to destroy 20 fuel tankers in two attacks on a convoy traveling from a refinery in Baiji to Baghdad, an official with the Salah al-Din Joint Coordination Center told CNN.

The first attack took place in Tikrit, where gunmen hit a tanker with a rocket-propelled grenade and killed the driver. An hour later, gunmen attacked the same convoy in Mashahda, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, destroying 19 more tankers, the official said.

The fate of those 19 drivers was unknown, the official added.

Other developments

  • A homemade bomb damaged a main pipeline carrying oil from the country's largest refinery in Baiji to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Kirkuk's police chief said.
  • U.S. President George W. Bush and his top aides met Thursday with more than a dozen former secretaries of defense and state at the White House, Reuters reported. Bush said he would "take to heart" the suggestions the former policy makers had for the U.S. strategy in Iraq. (Full story)
  • One of 23 Iraqi detainees being transferred from the western Iraqi town of Rutbah to a nearby U.S. base died Wednesday, according to a U.S. military statement released Thursday.
  • CNN's Cal Perry, Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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