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Suicide car bomb southwest of Baghdad kills nine
Updated: 2004-12-23 08:37

Nine people were killed and 13 wounded on Wednesday when a suicide bomber rammed a car into an Iraqi forces checkpoint south of Baghdad, a National Guard officer said by telephone from the scene.

The Guardsman said a suicide attacker drove his vehicle at high speed into the checkpoint, on the northeastern entrance to the town of Latifiya. Traffic was heavy at the time.

The blast destroyed around five civilian cars.

U.S. Marines in the area said they were looking into a blast that apparently involved a fuel tanker at Mahmudiya. It seemed this referred to the same incident as Mahmudiya lies just 3 km (two miles) north of Latifiya.

National Guards and police manning the checkpoint, near the main road linking Baghdad to the south, as well as civilians were among the dead, the National Guard officer said.

Latifiya is part of a dangerous cluster of towns southwest of the capital, where insurgents and bandits rule the streets, setting up impromptu checkpoints and killing anyone they suspect to be working with U.S.-led forces they want out of Iraq.

It is sometimes referred to as the "triangle of death."

The area is particularly treacherous for Iraq's fledgling security forces, whom insurgents target for working with the U.S.-backed government. The bloated bodies of Iraqi police and Guards, sometimes shot, sometimes beheaded, wash up frequently in on the banks of the nearby Euphrates River.

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