BAGHDAD, Nov 29: A suicide car bomber ploughed into policemen waiting to collect their salaries at a police station west of Ramadi on Monday, killing 12 people in the latest attack on Iraq's beleaguered security forces.
At least 10 people were wounded in the blast, and 90 per cent of the casualties were policemen, said Nazar al Hiti, a doctor in the town of Hit, 200kms west of Baghdad, where the dead and wounded were taken.
In Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded as a US patrol went past, killing two American soldiers and wounding three. Thirteen US soldiers and two foreign civilians were also wounded in a mortar attack south of Baghdad.
At least 968 US troops have been killed in action in Iraq and 9,000 have been wounded, most of them seriously. The US military has warned that attacks will increase in Iraq as elections scheduled for Jan 30 approach.
POLL POSTPONEMENT: The interim government has called for major religious and political leaders to meet in Baghdad on Tuesday in the hope of finding unity with just two months to go before the poll.
Most Sunni parties have been calling for the postponement of elections on the plea that Sunni-dominated areas will not be able to vote because of the Uncertain security situation.
Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi opposes postponement, saying there is no guarantee any delay would mean greater participation, although he has not completely ruled out a postponement.
Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told reporters in London on Monday he was working on the premise elections would go ahead on time. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Monday the United States was confident Iraq's elections will take place as planned on Jan 30 despite pressure to delay the poll.
"We're working hard on it. The U.N. has increased its presence. There are thousands of Iraqis who are working on registration and getting ready for the elections. We're encouraging all parties to participate in the political process, especially in the Sunni heartland," Mr Powell said. The US military has said it will move into guerilla-held areas by the end of the year to pacify them ahead of the elections.
POWELL: US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Monday there is "no reason" why Iraq's elections should not go ahead on time. "There's no reason they shouldn't," Mr Powell said when asked whether the elections should go forward as scheduled. "We're working hard on it. The UN has increased its presence.
"There are thousands of Iraqis who are working on registration and getting ready for the elections," he told reporters. "We're encouraging all parties to participate in the political process, especially in the Sunni heartland.
"An election is the way forward," Mr Powell said after meeting Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al Khalifa in Washington. The "insurgents must not be allowed to succeed", he said.
"And the way to show the lie to their efforts is to have a successful election on the 30th of January, and that's what we're all committed to." On Friday, several leading parties agreed on a document demanding the January 30 elections be postponed by six months due to security concerns. -AFP / Reuters
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