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Two Iraqi soldiers killed after firing on bomber

/ Source: The Associated Press

Iraqi soldiers fired on a suicide car bomber as he sped toward their checkpoint in a northern oil hub Sunday, and two of the troops died when the vehicle exploded, police said.

The attack in Beiji came just a day after a suicide truck bomber disguising his payload as a construction delivery attacked a police station in a residential neighborhood of the northern city. Eight people died in Saturday’s attack, police said.

In Sunday’s attack, the soldiers opened fire after the driver refused to slow down, a police officer told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The explosion killed two soldiers and wounded three, the officer said.

Violence has been unrelenting in northern Iraq as insurgents fight back against a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown and a groundswell of public opinion that has turned Sunni tribal leaders against the terrorist network.

Beiji has been hit hard in the past few days — in addition to the two suicide attacks, an insurgent bomb struck a key pipeline on Friday. The city, 155 miles north of Baghdad, houses northern Iraq’s largest oil refinery, and serves as a key transfer point for crude oil being exported out of Iraq.

Week of bloodshed
Sunday’s attack in Beiji capped a deadly week in which some 80 people were killed and dozens wounded in roadside bombs, car bombs and suicide attacks, most targeting Iraqi security forces or anti-al-Qaida groups north of Baghdad.

“This attack will not deter us and the bombings will not frighten us because we are serving our country and protecting our citizens,” Col. Hazim Jamil of the Beiji police force said Saturday.

Elsewhere in northern Iraq, the head of the Ninevah provincial committee survived an assassination attempt in Mosul. A roadside bomb exploded near a car carrying Hisham al-Hamdani, police said. Nobody was wounded in the attack.

Iraqi security forces also captured a Syrian member of al-Qaida in Iraq along with six other insurgents in overnight raids in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, police said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

Violence is generally down throughout Iraq, largely due to a U.S. troop buildup, the rise of the anti-al-Qaida groups and a freeze on activities by the Mahdi Army ordered by the militia’s leader, the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

But with the loss of many former sanctuaries, al-Qaida groups are believed to be moving to more remote regions.

The deadliest attack this week was a parked car bombing in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Karradah in Baghdad, which killed at least 18 people on Wednesday.