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11 dead in Iraq suicide attacks

A U.S. Bradley armored vehicle burns after a roadside bomb attack near Baghdad airport Saturday.
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BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Suicide car bombers Saturday targeted an Iraqi police station west of Baghdad and a national guard camp in Samarra, north of the capital city, killing a total of at least 11 Iraqis.

The deadliest attack happened at the police station in the town of Khan al-Baghdadi near Marine Camp Al-Asad west of Baghdad.

The suicide attacker killed 10 Iraqi police and wounded at least five others, according to U.S. Marine spokesman Lt. Lyle Gilbert.

Gilbert said there were no U.S. casualties.

An Iraqi journalist, who witnessed the blast, said the car bomb targeted the police station, where dozens of Iraqis were lined up to surrender their weapons and/or join the police force, according to several witnesses.

The blast happened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) several hundred meters from Camp Al-Asad, which is located about 124 miles (200 km) west-northwest of Baghdad.

Two of the wounded Iraqi police were treated by U.S. military medics and the three others were medevaced to a civilian hospital, Gilbert said.

The journalist said at least 30 were wounded in the blast.

Several hours later, a suicide car bomber detonated at an Iraqi National Guard Camp in Samarra, killing one Iraqi guardsman and wounding two others, according to a U.S. military spokesman.

The attack happened at 10:40 a.m. (0740 GMT). The vehicle approached the national guard base and, as the guardsmen approached the vehicle to search it, the car detonated.

Samarra is about 75 miles (120 km) north of Baghdad.

Also on Saturday, a roadside bomb struck a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in western Baghdad, wounding six U.S. soldiers, according to a U.S. military statement.

A military spokesman told CNN none of the soldiers' injuries were life-threatening, although they were medevaced to a nearby medical facility.

The attack happened at 7:15 a.m. (0415 GMT) on Baghdad's airport road.

Earlier the Multi-National Forces-Iraq reported that U.S. and Iraqi forces had captured a senior member of wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's inner circle during a raid in southern Falluja.

Five other people were also detained in the raid on the safe haven, which happened around 1:30 a.m. Saturday (2230 Friday ET), the MNF-I statement said.

Initially, the individual targeted and detained was thought to be a minor member of al-Zarqawi's circle.

However, the MNF-I said that "due to a surge in the number of Zarqawi associates who have been captured or killed by MNF-I strikes and other operations, the member had moved up to take a critical position as a Zarqawi senior leader."

Falluja has been the site of intensified U.S. attacks in recent weeks, with American forces ratcheting up their efforts against al-Zarqawi and his Unification and Jihad group, which has staged attacks against U.S. forces, Iraqi police and civilians.

A U.S.-led offensive on Falluja has been threatened if tribal and religious leaders there don't produce al-Zarqawi and other militants. The U.S. State Department is offering $25 million for the capture or death of al-Zarqawi.

According to recent intelligence, al-Zarqawi's followers have dispersed to Falluja's outlying areas, where they are attempting to hide among the civilian population, according to an MNF-I news release.

The U.S. military credits "the courage and bravery of Iraqi citizens" for its success in "eroding Zarqawi's support base." But it also warned Iraqis not to harbor al-Zarqawi's associates.

The MNF-I release said: "Those who associate with terrorists and kidnappers, including family members who support such efforts, are accountable. Terrorists and AIF (anti-Iraqi forces) continue to disregard the safety of innocent civilians by hiding among them."

But an influential Sunni Muslim leader -- Sheikh Fakhri al-Qasi, speaking for the Al-Shura Society for the Sunni people -- has warned U.S.-led forces not to conduct an offensive in the city and said such an assault would meet stiff opposition.

Meanwhile, about $500 million in unaccounted funds from Saddam Hussein's former regime is being used to finance a growing insurgency in Iraq, a U.S. military intelligence official said Friday.

The official said that, and other key findings, are contained in an updated military intelligence assessment of the Iraq insurgency.

The top finding is that the United States believes about a half-billion dollars that once belonged to the former Iraqi government, along with funds from individuals and religious groups in Saudi Arabia, is being funneled through Syria and used to fund insurgents.

The official said other findings included:

  • The absence of any unifying elements between 50 widely dispersed cells around the country.
  • Evidence that criminals, as opposed to terrorists with an overt political motivation, have conducted about 80 percent of the recent attacks.
  • Evidence that elements of the Baath Party are active "and even coming together in their efforts to regain control, disrupt organized government and to fund insurgent activities."
  • An indication that capturing or killing Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would stop or slow insurgent activity significantly.
  • The report says there is a core maximum of about 12,000 insurgents across the country, including foreign fighters, criminals and disaffected Iraqis.

    "Some foreign fighters are coming in, but more of concern is the numbers of Iraqis picking up the fight," the official said.

    He added that the insurgency is growing, as shown by the fact that the U.S.-led coalition appears to have captured or killed more insurgents than the original estimate -- 5,000 to 7,000 -- and there are still about 12,000 out there.

    The intelligence assessment was disclosed on a day when U.S. warplanes destroyed suspected weapons-storage sites in Falluja, the U.S. military said.

    Other developments

  • Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped director of CARE International in Baghdad, was shown on a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera pleading for her life. In the video, Hassan spoke to the camera, sobbing and crying. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called the video "extremely distressing." (Full story)
  • U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has "serious doubts" that the special tribunal chosen to try Saddam Hussein and his top associates could meet judicial standards for fair and open proceedings, a U.N. spokesman said Friday. "It's doubtful whether U.N. officials should be involved in the establishment of a tribunal that is not a U.N. body," Stephane Dujarric said. "We have serious doubts regarding the capability of the Iraqi special tribunal to meet the relevant international standards."
  • A military judge ordered a U.S. reservist to stand trial January 7 in Baghdad in connection with inmate abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. He is Spc. Charles Graner Jr. of the 372nd Military Police Company of Cresaptown, Maryland, the one-time boyfriend of Pfc. Lynndie England, who had appeared in the most widely publicized photos from Abu Ghraib. (Full story)
  • CNN's Barbara Starr, Jamie McIntyre and Nermeen Mufti contributed to this report.

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