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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Blast hits Baghdad police HQ

Wounded police officer
Some people were seriously wounded in the blast

A suspected car bomb has exploded outside the police headquarters in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing one Iraqi police officer and injuring about 14 other officers and civilians.

The building houses the office of US-appointed Baghdad police chief Hassan Ali, who was not there at the time, and is next to the interior ministry and police academy.

Correspondents say the latest violence heightens the climate of insecurity in the country caused by a spate of devastating car bomb attacks, general lawlessness and almost daily assaults on coalition forces.

Reports said the building was not extensively damaged although some cars went up in flames.

It has also been disclosed that two US military police officers were killed and one wounded on Monday when their vehicle hit an explosive device on a road in southern Baghdad.

Witnesses say a large explosion rocked the Rasafa district of the city shortly after 1100 (0700 GMT), igniting a large fire and sending black smoke billowing into the sky.

Lieutenant Khaled told French news agency AFP that the car exploded in the police station's parking compound for stolen vehicles.

Police force

"It was a car bomb. Thank God, no one has died. There are only wounded," said the station's forensics chief, Najim Mona.

The BBC's Peter Biles in Baghdad says that a new Iraqi police force is being trained up but there is still enormous insecurity in the country.

Suspicion for the attacks is likely to fall on remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, says our correspondent.

Earlier, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) announced the death of two US military police officers in a bomb attack on Monday.

"The two officers were killed and one wounded when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device on a main supply route south of Baghdad," said a spokeswoman.

The injured officer was evacuated for treatment, she said.

The latest deaths bring to at least 67 the number of US soldiers killed in guerrilla-style attacks in Iraq since major combat was declared over on 1 May.

There have been a series of bomb attacks on targets in Iraq in the past few weeks - including a mosque in Najaf, the UN headquarters and Jordanian embassy in Baghdad.

The latest explosion comes as Shia Muslims gather in Najaf for the final day of mourning for Ayatollah Muhammad Baqr al-Hakim, who died along with 80 others in the Najaf blast on Friday.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"This should have been one of the safest places in Baghdad"

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