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Wave of Iraq suicide bombings target police

A wave of Iraq suicide bombings and other attacks largely targeted the police on Wednesday, leaving at least 41 Iraqis dead in 7 different provinces. A poll shows that a majority of Iraqis say the US is withdrawing combat troops too soon.

By Jane ArrafCorrespondent / August 25, 2010

A girl looks at Iraqi soldiers at the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad Wednesday. A suicide car bomber killed 15 people and wounded at least 56 others in an attack on a police station in the northern Qahira district of Baghdad.

Thaier al-Sudani/REUTERS

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Baghdad

A string of suicide bombings across Iraq Wednesday targeted local security forces amid growing fears among many Iraqis that the US is withdrawing combat troops too soon.

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In one of the deadliest attacks, a suicide car bomb detonated outside a police station near the provincial headquarters in Kut, about 100 miles south of Baghdad. Initial reports had at least 20 people killed and 85 wounded, according to police officials.

In Baghdad, a suicide truck bomb detonated in the parking lot of a police station in the northeastern Qahira neighborhood, killing at least 15 people and wounding 34. A separate car bomb killed two police and wounded seven civilians in the city center while two other policemen were shot dead in the Al Amal neighborhood in south Baghdad.

No group has yet taken responsibility but Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki's office blamed the attacks on Al Qaeda and Baathists. The statement said the bombings would not derail the 'historic national achievement' of the troop withdrawal in line with Iraq achieving full national sovereignty.

The US military announced on Tuesday there were fewer than 50,000 troops left in Iraq following the departure of the last US combat brigade last week. The withdrawal is part of President Obama’s pledge to shift the Iraq effort from a combat to training and assistance mission on Sept. 1.

The US has not conducted unilateral combat operations since an Iraq-US security agreement took effect in June of last year, and is currently scheduled to withdraw all troops from the country by the end of 2011.

The White House on Tuesday characterized the drawdown to 50,000 troops as a “remarkable achievement” for the United States. But an Iraqi public opinion poll on Tuesday indicated that a majority of Iraqis want the US to stay. The Asharq research center poll found that almost 60 percent of Iraqis think the withdrawal is coming too soon, with 51 percent saying the withdrawal would harm the security situation; 26 percent said it would have a positive effect.

The US and Iraqi military have made significant inroads in dismantling the network of Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups. US officials say they believe there are fewer than 200 hard-core Al Qaeda fighters left in Iraq. But they have not been able to halt regular, high-profile attacks against Iraqi security forces, particularly against police who are supposed to take over from the Iraqi Army in securing cities and towns.

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