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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Bomb hits Baghdad police recruits
The bombed bus in Baghdad, Iraq
Police recruits bore the brunt of the suicide attack
A suicide car bomber has killed at least seven people and wounded 30 outside the police academy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, police sources say.

Five men queuing to join the police and two police officers were instantly killed in the blast, which took place near several government ministries.

It is the second major attack on the police in Baghdad in 24 hours.

Suicide bombers have struck many times this month in Baghdad, killing more than 100 in the bloodiest attack.

The oil ministry is also located in the area and employees on a ministry bus caught up in the blast were among the injured.

The wounded were mostly civilian government employees, police Lt Col Fuad Asaad was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

The blast occurred at about 0750 local time (0350 GMT), 10 minutes before the ministries usually open their doors.

It is estimated that up to 200 members of Iraq's security forces are being killed each month.

Prisoner releases

Also on Monday, the US military in Iraq began releasing 1,000 Iraqi detainees from Abu Ghraib prison at the request of the Iraqi government to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is due to start in the first week of October.

The first 500 prisoners boarded buses and were driven away from the prison, a notoriously brutal jail under Saddam Hussein, and under the control of the US military the scene of prisoner abuse by American soldiers.

The remaining 500 prisoners are to be released later this week.

It is a tradition among Arab and Islamic governments to pardon prisoners to mark Ramadan.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Gen Abdul Mutlaq Jubouri told the BBC the releases were an attempt to improve the atmosphere in the country in the run-up to the referendum on a new constitution next month.

He said he had given the Americans a list of more than 2,000 detainees who were candidates for release.

Most of the estimated 8,000 prisoners in Iraq are thought to be Sunnis.

US government officials said its military is releasing detainees who are not guilty of serious or violent crimes, "and have pledged to be good citizens of a democratic Iraq".

Sunni leaders have rejected the draft constitution - due to be put to a referendum in less than three weeks.


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