A series of bombs struck U.S. and Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul on Monday, killing at least 33 people and wounding dozens including four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi general.
The bloody attacks came less than a week after the Iraqi parliament approved a security pact with the United States that lets the Americans stay in Iraq for three more years.
At least 16 people were killed in a nearly simultaneous double-bombing near a police academy in eastern Baghdad.
A suicide attacker detonated his explosives vest packed with ball-bearings at an entrance to the academy, then a car bomb exploded about 150 yards away, apparently aimed at those responding to the initial blast, the U.S. military said.
The blasts occurred within minutes of each other on Palestine Street, according to police and witnesses.
One 22-year-old recruit who was injured in the attack said he had been standing in line with other applicants when the blasts occurred.
"We came today for appointment at the academy and I learned later that some of my friends were killed in the second explosion," Ali Nasir said. "It seems that there is no security and terrorism will not end."
Scene of carnage
Bloodied police uniforms and a military boot left by victims were scattered with the crumpled metal hulk of the car bomb on the charred street in the aftermath of the bombing, according to Associated Press Television News footage.
The attacker apparently was a teenage boy whose severed head was taken to a local hospital, a police officer said. An AP photographer saw the head and confirmed it appeared to be of a teenage boy.
Those killed included five policemen and 11 recruits, and nearly 50 were wounded, according to police and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.
The Iraqi and U.S. military gave slightly different numbers.
Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi's office gave a slightly lower toll of 11 killed and 34 wounded, while the U.S. military said 12 Iraqi police were killed.
The twin bombings occurred shortly after a roadside bomb elsewhere in Baghdad targeted Maj. Gen. Mudhir al-Mola, a senior government official overseeing affairs related to U.S.-allied fighters who recently have been turned over to government control in the capital.
A bodyguard was killed, but al-Mola escaped with minor injuries, according to the U.S. military.
Another roadside bomb struck a police patrol in eastern Baghdad, killing one officer and wounding four other people.
Attack in Mosul
In Mosul, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives as a joint U.S.-Iraqi convoy drove by in a crowded commercial area, a police officer said.
Mohammed al-Nuaimi, a 30-year-old employee of a nearby tire store, said local businessmen had received verbal warnings that the explosion would occur so they should evacuate the area.
"We started to close our shops and people were trying to flee when a U.S.-Iraqi convoy passed. One minute later, a big explosion took place and I was thrown to the ground and lost consciousness," he said in a telephone interview from his hospital bed.
At least 15 people were killed and 30 wounded in that attack, the officer said.
The U.S. military said eight Iraqi civilians were killed and 34 people wounded, including four U.S. soldiers.
Conflicting casualty tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq.
Combat deaths down
The carnage took place despite a downturn in violent deaths.
At least 17 U.S. troop deaths were recorded in November in Iraq, according to an Associated Press count, but only eight of those occurred during fighting. The military often doesn't release details about noncombat deaths, but the term usually refers to suicides or accidents.
The toll was a sharp drop from the 37 Americans who died in November 2007 — all but eight in combat, the AP tally showed. In all, at least 4,207 U.S. service members have died since the war began in March 2003.
Despite persistent violence, the number of Iraqi civilians and security forces killed in November also plummeted to 360, half the death toll from the same period last year, according to figures based on AP reporting. That continues a downward trend of Iraqi casualties that began in May and was the lowest monthly toll since the AP began tracking them in May 2005.
In northern Iraq, meanwhile, Iraqi police found a mass grave containing the bodies of 12 men believed to have been killed a week ago near the village of Qara Hassan, regional police officer Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said.