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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 December, 2003, 12:39 GMT
Car bomb hits Iraq police station
Doctor at hospital prepares to tend to casualty from Iraq blast
Casualties were taken to nearby hospitals in the city of Ramadi
At least 17 people have died and 30 are wounded after a powerful car bomb exploded at an Iraqi police station.

US sources at the scene in Khalidiyah, about 35 miles (60 km) west of Baghdad, say it may have been a suicide attack.

"[The] explosion went off near the gate of the station," a local police lieutenant told French news agency AFP.

Scores of Iraqis have been killed or injured in bomb attacks targeting police stations and those co-operating with coalition forces.

Earlier blasts

The blast occurred about 0840 local time (0540 GMT) at the station, which is next to a main road.

MAJOR POST-WAR ATTACKS
22 November: At least 18 people die in car bomb attacks on police stations in the towns of Khan Bani Saad and Baquba, north of Baghdad
12 November: 26 die in suicide attack on Italian police base in Nasiriya
2 November: 16 US soldiers die as Chinook helicopter downed
27 Oct: Red Cross and other buildings in Baghdad bombed, more than 30 killed
12 Oct: Baghdad Hotel bombed, six dead
9 Oct: Police station in Baghdad bombed, 10 killed
29 Aug: Mosque near Najaf bombed, dozens dead including Shia Islam's top cleric in Iraq
19 Aug: UN headquarters in Baghdad bombed, 23 killed including head of mission
7 Aug: Jordanian Embassy bombed, 14 killed
"There's a big hole outside the gate about three or four metres (10 to 13 feet) across and more than two metres (six feet) deep, and the outside wall was knocked down," the police lieutenant said.

US soldiers and Iraqi police could be seen surveying the site of the blast, which left a huge crater in the road and destroyed a large section of the building's front wall.

The bodies of both police officers and civilians could be seen amid the debris and several wrecked cars were also visible in the nearby streets, witnesses said.

Correspondents say if the deaths are confirmed it would be the largest single attack on Iraqi police in the country.

Frequent targets

Khalidiyah is located in the so-called Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad, which is known to be a stronghold of supporters of the ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In November, at least 18 people were killed in two car bomb attacks on police stations in the towns of Khan Bani Saad and Baquba, also located in the triangle.

In August, the chief of police in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul was shot and critically wounded by unknown assailants and two of his bodyguards killed.

BBC correspondent James Rodgers in Baghdad says Iraqi police and security personnel working with the US-led coalition are frequently targeted by insurgents within the country because they are seen as collaborators.

Coalition commanders, he says, are concerned violence will increase in the run-up to the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis next summer.

However, the occupying forces are determined to stay on the offensive in the face of continuing insurgent activity, he adds.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC 's Jane Bennett-Powell
"The Iraqi police have been attacked frequently"



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