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Two dead, 26 injured in Iraq car bomb attack
( 2004-01-14 17:01) (Agencies)

A suicide car bomber blew his vehicle up outside a police station in the restive Iraqi town of Baquba Wednesday, killing two people and wounding more than 20, local police, doctors and the U.S. military said.

"A suicide bomber in a green civilian sedan targeted the quick reaction police force," First Lieutenant Brian Elliott of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division told Reuters at the scene, adding that there were at least two deaths and a number of casualties.

"It could have been much worse if he had gotten the car inside the compound," he said.

Doctors at Baquba's main hospital said two people had died and more than 20 people were admitted with injuries sustained in the blast, which threw scores to the ground.

"The two dead were civilians and we have admitted 26 people for injuries, many of them police," said Mohammed Apiya Jibouri, a surgeon and deputy head of Baquba General Hospital.

A police officer at the scene said he saw the car racing toward the police station seconds before it detonated about 50 feet from the entrance to the compound.

He said police had fired on the vehicle but the driver didn't stop. One policeman at the scene said it appeared the bomber had tied his foot to the accelerator to make sure the car would speed ahead even if he was killed.

"I was inside and I heard an explosion and went out and I saw a car with someone whose body was blown to bits," said police Sergeant Raed Mehdi Zuhairi. "There was nothing left."

The police said they had spoken to the driver moments before the attack and told him to get away from the area as it was a secure zone. They said the man spoke with something other than an Iraqi accent.

U.S. officials blame loyalists to the former regime for most attacks on U.S. troops and local security forces. But they also believe that some foreign fighters have made their way into the country and may be responsible for suicide bombings.

Baquba, about 40 miles north of Baghdad, is a hotbed of anti-American insurgency and has grown increasingly restive in recent months. U.S. forces carry out near daily raids in and around the town searching for guerrilla suspects.

As well as attacking U.S. troops in the area, insurgents have also targeted police and others seen to be collaborating with the U.S. occupation.

Twin car bomb attacks on police stations in Baquba and the nearby town of Khan Bani Saad in November killed at least 16 people and wounded more than 30.

A bomb strapped to a bicycle exploded outside a Shi'ite mosque in Baquba after Friday prayers last week, killing at least six people. A car bomb at a nearby mosque was defused at around the same time.

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