Dozens die in Iraq blasts

Blasts at Baghdad's police academy and in Mosul kill 30 people and wound many more.

US soldiers stand guard at the site of bomb attacks at a police academy in eastern Baghdad.
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BAGHDAD // Blasts at Baghdad's police academy and in the northern city of Mosul killed 30 people and wounded dozens more today, hours after a roadside bomb wounded a senior Iraqi official, police said. Violence has fallen sharply over the last year as successive security crackdowns dealt insurgent groups a heavy blow, but officials say militants are now concentrating their efforts on attention-grabbing attacks ahead of elections next year.

People were queuing at the back entrance of the police academy in east Baghdad to enrol when a car bomb exploded, followed minutes later by a suicide bomb attack, police said. Fifteen people were killed and 45 wounded, they said. The attacks left a crater near the academy, and wallets containing identification cards required for enrolment lay scattered on the road, Reuters television footage showed.

Maj Gen Qassim Moussawi, a Baghdad security spokesman, said 11 people were killed. The US military said the suicide attack came first, the bomber's ball-bearing and explosives-packed vest killing six people. The car bomb exploded about 150 metres away, killing no one, the US military said. Body counts given by Iraqi police and the US military frequently differ. Shortly after the Baghdad attacks, police said a suicide car bomber and a car bomb killed 15 people and wounded 37 in Mosul, which officials say is the last holdout for al Qa'eda and other insurgents. They had once controlled swathes of Iraq.

The attack in Mosul targeted an Iraqi police and US military joint patrol, police said. The US military said nine Iraqis had been killed, but no US troops. Mosul's main hospital said it had received 15 bodies. Monday's blasts came as Iraq tries to prepare its security forces to take over responsibility from US troops, who under a security pact passed by parliament on Thursday will have to withdraw from towns by mid-2009 and leave Iraq by end-2011.