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Iraq suicide bombings kill 99


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Ninety-nine people have been killed and more than 180 injured in suicide bombings over the past two days in Iraq, including a fuel tanker attack south of Baghdad.

The death toll from the suicide bombing near a parked fuel tanker in the center of Musayyib, about 45 miles south of Baghdad, has risen to at least 90, authorities said Sunday.

On Sunday, four suicide car bombings killed nine people and wounded 21 on Sunday in and around Baghdad. An Iraqi police officer was also abducted in the Iraqi capital.

The Saturday bombing wounded some 160 people, police said.

President Jalal Talabani sent a letter of condolence to the Iraqi people and the families of those who died in that bombing, according to a statement issued by his office.

"While we strongly condemn this crime, we call on all local, regional and world parties to denounce the blatant acts of terrorism, leave double standards, stop campaigns of ideological backing to terrorism and contribute to fighting it and disclosing terrorism's treacherous aims," the statement said.

In Saturday's bombing, the suicide bomber detonated himself near a gas station. At the same time, police said, mortar rounds were fired at two police stations, the Musayyib police headquarters and the city's general hospital. Police said Sunday they cannot yet isolate the casualties from each site.

The attack, in Babil province, happened in an area known to many as the Triangle of Death.

The tanker entered Musayyib after being searched at the city's entrance and parked at the city center, according to police. The bomber, strapped with an explosive vest, approached the tanker and detonated.

Police confirmed to CNN Sunday that the tanker had been stolen in Baghdad.

Police are calling it a coordinated attack, suggesting the tanker's driver was an accomplice.

Baghdad battered

Two of the car bombs Sunday targeted Iraqi commando police patrols in southeastern Baghdad. Three police commandos were among those killed, and nine commandos were among the 14 wounded.

Another bomb, in Baghdad's Camp Sara neighborhood, killed three Iraqi policemen and wounded 10 civilians. The car was attempting to enter the compound of one of the electoral commission's offices, authorities said.

The fourth bomb targeted two Iraqi government SUVs, killing one person and wounding a second.

And Col. Saadon Mattar, an Iraqi police officer who works with Badr organization -- the military arm of the Supreme Council of Iraqi Revolution in Iraq Shiite party -- was abducted about noon Sunday by unknown gunmen, police said.

Mattar was driving in a car with his son when the abductors intercepted the car near al-Ahrar bridge in the center of Baghdad, police said. They forced Mattar's son to leave the car and took Mattar to an unknown location.

Handover process

British Defense Secretary John Reid on Sunday said it is possible that the process to withdraw British and U.S. troops from Iraq could begin within the next year.

"I believe it is a process that could start, no more than that, over the next 12 months," Reid said in an interview on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"But, as your own Secretary (Donald) Rumsfeld has said, the insurgency itself may go on for a long, long time. So what we have to envisage is a transitional handover over a period of time," Reid added.

The secretary denied the United States and Britain have any imperialist ambitions in Iraq, but said U.S. and British troops would not leave the country "until the Iraqi people themselves have taken democratic control and feel competent in order to combat terrorism themselves and to take the lead."

"So there's no quitting. We ain't leaving there until such times as they are happy and we are happy that those conditions have been met."

Reid said the gradual withdrawal would be a conditional one, "not set to any immutable time scale."

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