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18 killed in northern Iraq violence

Armed militants fought gunbattles with U.S. and Iraqi troops in the northern city of Mosul on Friday in which four policemen, including a top officer, and four insurgents were reported killed. Ten other Iraqis were killed in a suicide bomb in Hadhar.
/ Source: Reuters

At least 18 people died in violence in northern Iraq on Friday, police said, including a senior policeman in the country’s third-largest city, Mosul.

A suicide bomber killed 10 people when he drove his car packed with explosives on to a sports field in Hadhar, 55 miles to the south of Mosul, where a police team were playing a local side.

Police said the car plowed into a group of police spectators, killing three policemen and seven civilians. Twelve people were wounded.

In Mosul, police Col. Jassim Muhammad Bilal and two bodyguards were killed by a car bomb in the ethnically diverse city, which is 240 miles north of Baghdad.

At least one more policeman and four militants were killed in Mosul during six hours of heavy clashes between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi security forces, police sources said.

Police later said they had the western half of Mosul, which is divided by the Tigris River, under control.

“We have killed a number of them (the insurgents) and burned their cars. Now the west bank is 100 percent secured,” chief of Nineveh police Gen. Wathiq al-Hamdani told state television, adding that the insurgents were members of al-Qaida.

The United States recently announced that it was moving more than 3,500 troops from the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Mosul to Baghdad to help rein in worsening sectarian violence there.

The U.S. military said this did not mean troop levels were being cut in Mosul, as the 172nd’s responsibilities were being turned over to a replacement unit.