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Iraq Transition

18 dead in attacks on Iraqi police

Prayer vigil for U.S. hostage

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Insurgents attacked Iraqi police today in three cities.

A man identified as a U.S. hostage appears in video on Al-Jazeera TV.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents killed 18 people Thursday in attacks on police in three Iraqi cities, authorities said.

In the day's deadliest strike, two car bombs -- apparently intended for an Iraqi police convoy in southern Baghdad -- exploded almost simultaneously killing 11 people and wounding 37 others, said police.

About two hours after the blasts, U.S. and Iraqi forces destroyed a third suspected car bomb nearby in a controlled explosion, police said.

A police official said most of the casualties were civilians, although some police officers were among them.

The car bombs exploded on a busy road that leads to Baghdad University.

In southern Iraq, a suicide bomber killed four Iraqi policemen and wounded six civilians when he ignited an explosives-laden briefcase in a busy market, an Iraqi official said. The attack occurred in Mahaweel, about 20 miles north of Hilla in northern Babil province.

Gunmen in the northern city of Kirkuk attacked the Al-Adala police station, killing three Iraqi police officers and wounding four other people, including a civilian, a police official said.

The police station, which was being used as a residence, was reopened last week.

It was the second day of apparently concerted attacks on security forces in the Kirkuk area.

On Wednesday, a blast near Kirkuk killed 12 Iraqi security personnel trying to defuse a roadside bomb, officials said.

Insurgents in Baghdad attacked an Interior Ministry official Wednesday, and three bombers in the capital targeted U.S. military vehicles.

Prayer vigil for U.S. hostage

A Pakistani embassy official who disappeared more than five days ago in Baghdad appeared in a hostage video Thursday on the Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera.

Al Jazeera did not air audio of the tape, but said Malik Mohammed Javaid urged the Pakistani government and the international community to intervene and secure his release. (Full story)

Al-Jazeera on Wednesday, showed Indiana businessman Jeffrey Ake, who also was abducted this week in Iraq. The video showed him surrounded by masked militants while he asked his family and friends to urge the United States to negotiate with the "Iraqi national resistance." (Full story)

Leigh Morris, mayor of Ake's hometown of La Porte, said a prayer vigil for Ake is planned for Friday night.

"Jeff is a very strong individual," Morris said Thursday. "We have a great deal of compassion for him here and a lot of support."

The mayor said Ake, who has a wife and four children, is a "wonderful family man."

Ake is president and chief executive officer of Equipment Express, a company in the northwestern Indiana community of Rolling Prairie that makes machinery for packaging liquids.

The company has been involved in reconstruction work in Iraq.

"He's been a successful businessman" and "started his business from a garage and has built it into something very significant."

Morris stressed Ake's "humanitarian" instincts and a desire to help people, saying that he recently worked in Nigeria to help improve the availability of clean drinking water.

"I'm sure that's what took him to Iraq as well," he said.

In March, a man with U.S., Romanian and Iraqi citizenship was abducted in Iraq with three Romanian journalists. A senior Romanian official said the man was a translator named Mohamad Munaf. (Full story)

Other developments

  • Federal authorities announced Thursday the indictment of a Texas businessman and an oil company he heads as part of a U.S. probe of the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program. David Chalmers, chief of Texas-based Bayoil, which participated in the U.N. program, was arrested Thursday morning in Houston, U.S. Attorney David Kelley said. (Full story)
  • Iraqi security forces seized 27 suspected insurgents in Baquba on Thursday, said Iraqi army Col. Issmael Ibraheem. The arrests, in the southern part of the city, came during a seven-hour operation that also confiscated weapons and al Qaeda leaflets, he said. The suspected insurgents included two Egyptians and 14 other people who were wanted for crimes committed against security forces, Ibraheem said.
  • Outgoing interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said Thursday he isn't pursuing a Cabinet post in the country's new government. He said he wants members of his political coalition who campaigned in Iraq's January 30 elections to have four Cabinet positions -- including ministers of defense, interior, an economic post, or a service ministry. In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Allawi also said he would like to run the panel charged with writing a constitution and he isn't ruling out a run for the top position in elections for a permanent government -- which are scheduled for year's end.
  • CNN's Kevin Flower, Ayman Mohyeldin, Octavia Nasr, Aneesh Raman and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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