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msnbc.com news services
updated 10/19/2006 8:35:57 PM ET 2006-10-20T00:35:57

A suicide bomber driving a fuel tanker struck a major police station in the northern city of Mosul on Thursday, killing 12 people and wounding 25, many of them motorists waiting to buy gas at a nearby station, police said.

Authorities imposed a curfew after the morning attack on Abi Tamam police station, but it was lifted after nearly six hours. Police fired into the air in several parts of the city, forcing motorists and pedestrians to scurry for cover.

The attacker was trying to slam the tanker into the police station when he was shot to death by a policeman, igniting the fuel in his vehicle and setting off the explosives.

The station commander, Col. Abed Hamed al-Jibouri, said the massive blast damaged the police station and destroyed as many as 42 cars waiting nearby to buy gas. Lines outside gas stations are routine in Iraq because of persistent fuel shortages.

At least two policemen were among the 12 people killed in the attack, al-Jibouri said, adding that 25 people were wounded.

The northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk have seen a significant increase in violence in recent weeks as U.S. troops focus on crushing insurgent and militia activity in the center of the country, especially in the capital and its environs.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, announced that an American soldier had been killed in combat Wednesday in Anbar province, the insurgent stronghold west of the capital. It was the 71st death of an American service member in October, putting it on course to be the bloodiest month for U.S. forces in nearly two years.

Police also said at least four people were killed and 13 wounded when a pair of roadside bombs went off in quick succession in the same spot in a residential part of the southern Dora district of Baghdad.

The first blast killed two civilians and wounded 11. A second explosion five minutes later, targeting police and rescuers who arrived at the scene, killed two policemen and wounded two others, police Lt. Maytham Abdul-Razzaq said.

Video: Snipers a growing problem Elsewhere in Dora, one of Baghdad’s most violent areas, gunmen opened fire on a police station, killing four policemen. The gunbattle ended when U.S. troops came to the rescue, forcing the assailants to flee, police said.

Police Brig. Bassem Kadhim, who served with the border police, was shot to death outside his home in southwestern Baghdad before they fled, Lt. Muataz Salaheddin said, adding that the gunmen had fled.

A roadside bomb also hit a convoy of civilian cars south of Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, killing four and wounding one, police Lt. Mohammed al-Shimmari said.

In the volatile province of Anbar, west of Baghdad, an unspecified number of al-Qaida in Iraq militants were killed in clashes with security and tribal forces in Ramadi, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said at a news briefing.

As many as 60 al-Qaida gunmen arrived Wednesday at July 17th street in the heart of the city in 17 vehicles and remained there for 15 minutes before they were forced to flee, Khalaf said.

Witnesses contacted in Ramadi confirmed the basics of Khalaf’s account, but added that the masked gunmen staged a military-like parade on the street, carrying banners exhorting people to support an Islamic state in Iraq announced this week by a militant group. They said mosques in the city used loudspeakers to rally support for the new state.

The Mujahedeen Shura Council — an umbrella organization of insurgent groups that includes al-Qaida in Iraq — said Sunday in a videotape that it has established an Islamic state made up of six provinces including Baghdad.

Iraqi insurgents are not known to control any territory in the country. However, Wednesday’s parade in central Ramadi pointed to the growing confidence of the insurgents in a city where U.S. and Iraqi forces have a heavy presence.

But Khalaf sounded confident on the future of the large province.

“We are comfortable with Anbar,” he said. “It will be a safe province in a matter of weeks.”

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