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Car bombs kills 20, wounds 32 in Western Iraq
( 2003-12-15 09:22) (Agencies)

Twenty people have been killed and 32 wounded by a car bomb exploded Sunday morning outside an Iraqi police station west of Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer said.

Sixteen policemen were among those killed in Sunday's explosion at Khaldiyah, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Iraqi capital, the officer added.

The blast happened in Khaldiyah, part of a hotbed of anti-coalition activity.   [Reuters]
The police station is on a main road in the town which lies between Fallujah and Ramadi in the heart of the Sunni triangle, a hotbed of anti-coalition activity.

"About 8:30 (a.m.), a car bomb was detonated at Khaldiyah police station. We have some indication that it's a suicide bomber. But it's too early to give a final judgment," The Associated Press quoted Lt. Col. Jeff Swisher of the U.S. military as saying.

The U.S.-led coalition said a rapid reaction force had been sent to the area. None of its forces were involved, a spokesman added.

The bombing was the latest of several police station blasts that have killed dozens of officers in recent months.

Anti-U.S. assailants appear to target the police and other officials because they are regarded as collaborators with the U.S.-led occupation.

The blast came as U.S.- led coalition leaders said they were considering pay raises for members of the new Iraqi army after about half of the recruits resigned.

An Iraqi man stands outside a police station after a car bomb blast in village of Khalidiyah, some 50 miles west of Baghdad December 14, 2003.   [Reuters]
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said Saturday the exodus was primarily from married soldiers who were trying to support their families on $60 a month.

Meanwhile insurgent attacks are continuing to kill U.S. soldiers. On Friday a crude bomb went off near the town of Ramadi, about 100 km west of Baghdad, as a U.S. convoy traveled past.

Three soldiers were wounded in the blast, but one later died at a field hospital, the military said. The condition of the two other soldiers was not immediately released.

Earlier Friday, the military said a soldier with the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division died from a "non-hostile gunshot wound." Further details about what happened were not available.

The two deaths brought to 455 the number of U.S. troops killed since the start of the Iraq war. Of those 312 have died from hostile fire, while 143 deaths have been classified as non-hostile.

There is no reliable source for Iraqi civilian or combatant casualty figures from the period of major combat or after May 1.

The Associated Press reported an estimated 3,240 civilian Iraqi deaths between March 20 and April 20, but the agency reported that the figure was based on records of only half of Iraq's hospitals and the actual number is thought to be significantly higher.

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