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Suicide bomb blasts Baghdad police academy, killing dozens

A SUICIDE bomber attacked police lined up at the entrance of the main police academy in Baghdad yesterday, killing around 30 people and wounding dozens of others, officials said.

The blast - the second major attack to hit Iraqis in three days - was a bloody reminder of the ability of insurgents to defy security improvements and stage dramatic attacks as the United States begins to draw down its forces.

The US military announced later yesterday that 12,000 American and 4,000 British troops will leave Iraq by September.

US Major General David Perkins said that will reduce US combat power from 14 brigades to 12 brigades. He also said US is turning over more facilities to the Iraqi military as part of the drawdown.

The bomber detonated his explosives near a side entrance of the academy, which is in a mainly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad.

One police officer said the bomber was riding a motorcycle when he drove into the line, but the Interior Ministry said the method of attack had not yet been determined.

Extremists have increasingly targeted Iraqi forces, who are trying to prove they can take over the country's security from American troops.

Violence has declined sharply in Baghdad and surrounding areas, but Iraqis continue to face attacks daily.

Baghdad's main police academy has been hit by several bombings. Another bombing there killed at least 33 people and wounded dozens on December 1.

Two medical officials and one police officer in the area where the bombing occurred said 30 people were killed and some 60 wounded.

Another police officer at the Interior Ministry said 28 were killed and 57 wounded.

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Abdul-Karim Khalaf said 24 people were killed and 60 wounded.

Nobody claimed responsibility for yesterday's attack. But suicide attacks and car bombings are usually blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents seeking to undermine public confidence in security gains that have led to a sharp decline in violence.

Yesterday's bombing was the deadliest to strike Baghdad in nearly a month. But a spate of deadly attacks have occurred in other areas. Last Thursday, a parked car bomb tore through a livestock market in Hillah, 95 kilometers south of Baghdad, killing 13 people.


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