Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Sunday, 16 November 2008

Many killed in Iraq bomb attacks

Iraq map

Two separate explosions in Iraq have killed at least 18 people and wounded many more, officials say.

Iraqi police say a suicide car bomb exploded at a police checkpoint in Diyala province, north of the capital Baghdad, killing at least 15 people.

Another three people were killed and seven wounded in a bomb explosion near a checkpoint in Baghdad.

The attacks came as the Iraqi cabinet approved a security pact governing the future of US troops in the country.

The suicide attack in Diyala province took place just east of the provincial capital Baquba, where US and Iraqi forces have been engaged in long-running operations against militants.

Security officials say the dead included seven policemen and that 20 people were wounded.

Militia killed

Meanwhile, police said two of those killed in the Baghdad explosion were members of pro-government Sunni militias.

The militias are largely made up of former insurgents who have allied themselves with US and Iraqi forces over the past two years to fight al-Qaeda.

Correspondents say the militias have played a key role in the improvement in security in Iraq.

Scene of blast at Baghdad's National Theatre
Saturday's attack near Baghdad's National Theatre claimed three lives

On Saturday, a car bomb killed 10 people and injured at least 20 outside a car dealership in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar.

In Baghdad, also on Saturday, a bomb went off near the National Theatre, killing at least three people.

Iraq's cabinet on Sunday approved a controversial bilateral deal with the US to replace its UN mandate in Iraq which expires at the end of this year.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), has to be approved by the Iraqi parliament.

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