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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 February, 2005, 19:10 GMT
Eighteen killed in Iraq violence
The coffin of Judge Taha al-Amiri in Basra
Judge Taha al-Amiri's killing was the second in Basra this week
At least 18 people have been killed by two car bombs and a senior judge has been shot dead in new attacks in Iraq.

A blast outside a hospital killed at least 17 people and injured about 25 more in the town of Musayyib, about 70 km (45 miles) south of Baghdad.

Elsewhere, gunmen killed a prominent Iraqi judge on his way to work in the southern city of Basra.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi election official said results of the January 30 election were likely to be announced on Sunday.

Election commission spokesman Farid Ayar told al-Arabiya TV that some unspecified issues would be finalised in the morning, and a news conference would probably be held during the afternoon to announce the figures.

Three days would then be allowed to verify the results and hear any disputes before the result was confirmed, he added.

Civilians killed

Saturday's blasts come at the end of a violent week in Iraq in which scores of Iraqis have died.

Car in which journalist Abdul Hussein Khazal was killed in Basra
7 February: Bomb attacks on police leave 25 dead in Mosul and Baquba
8 February: At least 21 killed in suicide blast at army recruitment centre in Baghdad
9 February: At least nine die, including a reporter for a US-funded Arabic TV station in Basra
10 February: At least eight police are killed and more than 60 wounded in attack south of Baghdad
11 February: Attacks on a Shia mosque and in a mainly Shia part of Baghdad leave 23 dead
12 February: At least 18 people are killed by a car bomb and a senior judge is shot dead

The BBC's Jon Leyne, in Baghdad, says the violence is up to the level seen in Iraq before the election.

There are also fears that Shia Muslims - the majority group poised to win the elections - are being targeted in an attempt to draw them into conflict.

Saturday's deadliest car bomb came in an area where there has been extensive violence.

It follows two attacks on Friday - at a mosque and a bakery - in which civilians were also targeted.

Eyewitnesses in Musayyib say the car was being driven towards a local government building when it exploded.

All the dead were civilians, a police spokesman told Reuters news agency.

Musayyib is a mixed town containing both Shia and Sunni Muslims.

Later on Saturday a car exploded close to a US base in eastern Baghdad, catching a minibus and injuring those inside. A woman died later in hospital.

In Mosul, police and medical sources said the bodies of six Iraqis had been found near the northern city.

Struggle for justice

Saturday also saw the week's second assassination in Basra as gunmen killed Judge Taha al-Amiri and wounded his driver.

The incident follows Wednesday's killing of a reporter for a US-funded Arabic TV station in Iraq's second city.

Insurgents in Iraq have frequently targeted Iraqi government officials.

Mr Amiri was the former chief judge at Basra's highest criminal court, the Associated Press reported.

Correspondents say Iraq's criminal justice system is struggling to re-establish itself following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

They say many judges who served during his rule have returned to their posts, while new judges have also been appointed.

Violence continues to claim lives across Iraq


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