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Iraq car bomb kills 5 as general assassinated

/ 09:50 PM April 28, 2011

KIRKUK–A car bomb Thursday killed five people in north Iraq, including a senior police officer, while gunmen shot dead a general in Baghdad, the latest in a spate of assassinations of top officials.

In the oil-rich ethnically-mixed province of Kirkuk, a vehicle packed with explosives detonated at around 2:30 pm (1130 GMT) in the town of Shahria as a police convoy was passing nearby.

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The blast killed Colonel Mohammed Mohsen, three other policemen and an unidentified victim, according to a police colonel who declined to be named and Khalaf al-Juburi, a doctor at the main hospital in the nearby town of Hawija.

Six others, three policemen and three civilians, were wounded in the attack, both sources said.

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Kirkuk is at the center of a tract of disputed territory that is claimed by both the central government and Kurdish regional authorities. US officials have persistently said the unresolved row is one of the biggest threats to Iraq’s future stability.

Also on Thursday, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Alaa Jassim was shot dead by gunmen while in his car on a busy thoroughfare in the Ghazaliyah neighborhood of west Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.

The killing of Jassim, the deputy commander of the Iraqi air force’s Al-Muthanna base in central Baghdad, was the fourth of a senior Iraqi official in the past week, with at least three others having narrowly escaped death in that time.

On Wednesday, Iraq’s top theatre and film official narrowly escaped assassination when a magnetic “sticky bomb” affixed to his car detonated shortly after he parked it. Shafiq al-Mehdi’s two bodyguards were wounded.

A day earlier, the deputy police chief of Kirkuk province in north Iraq himself escaped an assassination attempt that involved four explosions which killed one other security force member and wounded 30 people.

And last week, a senior official in Iraq’s foreign ministry, the head of Iraq’s tax agency, and an army lieutenant colonel were killed by gunmen using silencers.

A police departmental chief was wounded in a separate incident involving the same weapon.

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The Islamic State of Iraq, Al-Qaeda’s front group in the country, posted a statement on the Internet jihadist forum Honein last week, claiming to have carried out 62 “operations” from the onset of March until April 5.

Violence has dropped off dramatically in Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, especially in the capital. A total of 247 people died in violence in March, according to official figures.

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