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Violence marks 2nd anniversary of war

Five dead in insurgent attacks

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents Saturday marked the second anniversary of the beginning of war in Iraq by killing two Iraqi contractors working for the U.S. Army in a drive-by shooting and three Iraqi police officers in a bombing.

President Bush marked day with an impassioned speech defending the invasion and the ensuing U.S.-led operation, which ousted the Saddam Hussein regime and is trying to help establish a democratic political system. (Full story)

"Now, because we acted, Iraq's government is no longer a threat to the world or its own people," Bush said, delivering his weekly radio address.

But across the globe, demonstrators congregated to protest the U.S.-led actions, which they said have caused needless bloodshed and failed to uncover weapons of mass destruction -- a major reason for the invasion.

Protests marking the second anniversary of "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad were held in such cities as Tokyo, Istanbul, Athens, Stockholm and London and were to be held in cities throughout in the United States.

The insurgent violence in Iraq escalated after Bush declared an end to the military phase of the war on May 1, 2003. The incidents and developments Saturday typified the daily attacks Iraq has since endured and the dogged efforts of U.S. and Iraqi forces to arrest suspected insurgents.

In Saturday's violence, a bomb exploded during a funeral procession in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing three Iraqi police officers and wounding six others, the military said. The funeral was for an Iraqi police officer killed on Friday.

In Baquba, another northern city, two Iraqi contractors working for U.S. Army were shot dead and three civilians were wounded Saturday in a drive-by shooting, a hospital official told CNN.

Iraqi police said a Syrian national who Iraqi police suspect was making plans for a terrorist attack was arrested near Baghdad's Babylon Hotel early Saturday. The suspect was apparently doing reconnaissance work around the hotel grounds, police said.

In another incident on Saturday, U.S. soldiers mistakenly fired on a group of Iraqi police officers in a northern neighborhood of Baghdad early in the morning, wounding three of the Iraqis, according to an Iraqi Emergency Police spokesman.

U.S.-led forces are trying to rout insurgents in western Iraqi cities and in Mosul. U.S. and Iraqi forces detained 12 suspected insurgents during operations Friday and Saturday.

Other developments

  • Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters marked the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq with demonstrations across Europe Saturday. (Full story)
  • The Swedish Foreign Ministry said Friday that an Iraqi-born Swede kidnapped in Iraq more than a month ago has been released. Sweden's National Police said the family of politician Minas Ibrahim Al-Yousifi told authorities of his release. (Full story)
  • An American soldier died from a gunshot wound Friday during a patrol in Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The number of U.S. deaths in the war stands at 1,520.
  • CNN producer Zoran Stevanovic contributed to this report.

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