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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 September, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Violence flares in northern Iraq
Women grieve after Saturday's blast in Kirkuk
Hundreds of trainees were leaving as the bomb went off in Kirkuk
A suicide car bomb attack in northern Iraq has left at least 17 people dead and more than 20 wounded, police say.

The car exploded near a police training academy in the city of Kirkuk, as recruits were leaving for the day.

Earlier, US-led forces launched an operation against insurgents near another northern city, Mosul.

Heavy fighting left at least 11 people there dead and 40 wounded, according to local doctors. Most of the casualties were civilians, they said.

In other developments:

  • A big security operation at Latifiya, near Baghdad, rounded up about 200 suspects, but left 12 police officers dead, an official said
  • An oil pipeline near the main southern Iraqi city of Basra was attacked, but it was not immediately clear to what extent exports were disrupted
  • Several mortar rounds landed in Baghdad near the compound housing the interim Iraqi government on Saturday, as politicians were gathering for a meeting.
'Terrorist act'

In Kirkuk, police said a suicide attacker detonated a bomb in his car as he approached a police training academy.

There was widespread damage, with seven cars ablaze as ambulances arrived.

"This is a terrorist act against members of Iraqi police who were heading to their homes," said Kirkuk police colonel Sarhat Qadir.

Another senior policeman said the blast had killed at least 14 policemen and three civilians.

The BBC's correspondent in Iraq, Paul Wood, says attacks on Iraq's new police force are a common tactic for insurgents in Iraq, who view them as collaborators.

The bloodshed in Kirkuk followed news of clashes in Talafar, 50km (31 miles) west of Mosul.

The US military launched an operation to root out militants in Talafar - described by the US military as "a hotbed of anti-Iraq activity".

During intense fighting, the US said, four insurgents were killed, and a US helicopter was brought down, injuring two crew.

There was fierce fighting around the helicopter site, as US air support was called in.

Local doctors said a number of civilians, including woman and children, were among the dead and injured.

Mosul was once seen as a success story by the US, our correspondent says, but is now the scene of frequent battles between US forces and their opponents.


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