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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Iraqi PM vows to crush insurgents
Iyad Allawi (centre) at scene of Wednesday's bomb blast in Baghdad
Allawi has made restoring security his priority
Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has vowed to destroy insurgents behind a wave of deadly attacks in Iraq.

Mr Allawi unveiled plans for a new intelligence unit, which he said would "annihilate those terrorist groups".

Hours earlier, a car bomb exploded near the main police station and government offices in the Iraqi town of Haditha, killing at least 10 people.

Police apparently thwarted a second car bomb in Karbala, while northern and southern pipelines were attacked.

Security measures

The prime minister announced the new intelligence unit, the General Security Directorate, at a news conference in Baghdad.

"We are determined to bring down all the hurdles that stand in the way of our democracy... terrorism will be terminated," he said.

The formation of the unit is the latest in a series of steps aimed at wiping out militants behind attacks that have killed hundreds of Iraqis in recent months.

Last week, Iraq announced tough new security measures, including the right to impose martial law and curfews, set up checkpoints and detain suspects.

On Wednesday, at least 10 people were killed and about 40 were injured when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad - the deadliest attack since the new Iraqi government took office just over two weeks ago.

Mr Allawi said he suspected the blast was in retaliation for his government's security measures.

The BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says the prime minister has been quick to try to assert his authority and convince Iraqis that security is his top priority.

Mr Allawi said he would begin a tour of the Middle East next week to open a "new chapter" in relations between Iraq and its neighbours.

Car chase

The bombing in Haditha appeared to have targeted the police station, with at least three officers among the dead, officials said.

The blast damaged several buildings in the town, which lies 200km (120 miles) north-west of Baghdad on the main road from the Iraqi capital to the Syrian border.

Violence has also flared in other parts of the country.

Police in the southern city of Karbala said a car bomb exploded overnight about 500m from a base where Bulgarian soldiers are garrisoned.

Officers said they chased the vehicle after receiving a tip-off that it was carrying explosives. The occupants detonated the charges when they realised they were surrounded.

Bulgaria is awaiting news of a Bulgarian hostage after a deadline for his execution passed. Militants beheaded the man's colleague on Monday.

A rocket attack in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in the north killed four people, believed to be members of the same family, while reports from Ramadi, west of Baghdad, say five Iraqis died in a gunfight with US forces.

The pipeline running from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan has been set ablaze, halting exports, officials said.

Police in the south reported that saboteurs had drilled holes in a key pipeline near Basra.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Paul Anstiss
"Prime Minister Allawi must convince the people of Iraq that he really is in control of the situation"




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