updated 10/16/2007 4:16:46 PM ET 2007-10-16T20:16:46

A series of attacks across Iraq targeted security forces and tribal leaders on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people including a police chief who died in the bombing of a station that was hit four times before.

In Baghdad, an explosives-laden car parked across the street from an Iraqi army checkpoint exploded, killing four civilians and two Iraqi soldiers, police and army officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

It was the latest in a series of car bombings in the capital despite stringent security measures in place as part of U.S.-Iraqi military operations and celebrations marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

In the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber in a sewage-pump truck detonated his payload as he approached a police station recently rebuilt after four previous attacks, police said.

The blast collapsed most of the building, killing at least four policemen, including the station chief, and wounding 75 people, police said. Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Waqqa said several nearby shops and cars were damaged.

Mosul, located 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has seen a rise in violence that many blame in part on an influx of militants who fled the Baghdad security crackdown.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks, but both bombings bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents, particularly al-Qaida in Iraq.

Progress, but violence persists
U.S. commanders have cited major progress in curtailing al-Qaida operations during an eight-month security crackdown in Baghdad and surrounding areas, but they have been unable to stop the car bombings and suicide attacks usually attributed to the group.

A car bomb in western Baghdad’s religiously mixed Harthiyah neighborhood Monday night killed at least six people and wounded 25, police said. Most of the victims were among families on their way home after spending the day in a nearby amusement park for Eid al-Fitr, the festival that follows the end of Ramadan.

A suicide car bomber also targeted a Sunni Arab group that has joined forces with the U.S. against al-Qaida around Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The blast tore through a checkpoint near the Salahuddin Revival Council’s office in Yathreb village, just outside Balad, killing six policemen, police said.

The U.S. military announced the arrest of several militants on both sides of the sectarian divide, including one of five extremists who were believed to be behind last week’s rocket attack that killed two American soldiers at Camp Victory, the headquarters for American forces in Iraq.

The suspect was detained along with three known associates early Monday by U.S. soldiers, who rousted them from the Agriculture Ministry in Baghdad where they were hiding, according to a statement.

“We have reason to believe that, through two intelligence-driven operations over the last few days, we now have detained all of the leadership and the key operatives of the indirect fire cell that attacked Victory Base last week,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the deputy commander of Baghdad operations.

The statement did not identify the militants, but the Agriculture Ministry — which was closed for the holiday on Monday — is run by Shiites with a heavy influence by the Mahdi Army militia that is loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Suspected al-Qaida militants detained
Separately, the military announced the capture in southern Baghdad of a suspected al-Qaida-linked militant believed to be a key leader in a car bomb network that was trying to re-establish itself after being disrupted by U.S.-led operations. Nine other suspects also were detained in that raid and others in the capital.

U.S. troops also killed three al-Qaida-linked militants and detained 20 during the weekend near the northern Sunni cities of Samarra and Tarmiyah, as well as the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi, the military said.

In other violence Tuesday reported by police who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information:

  • Three policemen were shot to death in a drive-by shooting at a checkpoint in Baghdad’s eastern neighborhood of Zayouna.
  • Gunmen shot to death two tribal leaders and two relatives in separate attacks west of Baghdad and in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

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