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Iraq Transition

Witness: Woman leaves suicide vest, kills 9

Retired general: U.S. has few alternatives to current Iraq strategy
Sandals litter a bloody pool after a bomb attack on a Baghdad courthouse Thursday.



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• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A female bomber removed an explosives-laden vest when she was denied access to a Baghdad courthouse and left it in a bag outside the building, where it exploded and killed at least nine people Thursday, a witness told the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

The 9:30 a.m. blast, outside the eastern Baghdad courthouse on busy Palestine Street, also wounded 46 people, the ministry said.

The violence took place as a report from retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey said the American strategy in Iraq is "painfully but gradually succeeding," but that U.S. troops will be needed in Iraq for another three to five years. (Watch new ideas on a U.S. exit strategy -- 2:11)

Elsewhere in Baghdad on Thursday, two U.S. soldiers attached to Multinational Division-Baghdad were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb, the U.S. military said.

Their deaths brought the number of U.S. military and military-connected civilians killed in the Iraq war to 2,408.

Iraqi army officer Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdul Latifwas was gunned down in western Baghdad's Yarmouk neighborhood as he drove to work, the Interior Ministry said.

In Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, police said they found 16 bodies Thursday. All were found shot in the head, and police said they were unable to identify them.

Also in Tikrit, gunmen shot and killed a police officer in a drive-by shooting, police said. Another police officer was wounded in the incident.

In Ramadi, eight insurgents were killed in a firefight U.S. Marines, the U.S. military said.

In Iskandariya, 40 miles south of Baghdad, police found two bodies that had been dumped in plastic bags near a bridge Thursday morning, a police spokesman said. The bodies have not been identified.

Police in Baghdad found a total of 34 bodies -- shot and bearing signs of torture -- on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Wednesday, insurgents killed 16 people at a police recruitment center in Falluja, an American civilian contractor near Nasiriya and a police officer in Baquba.

Police and hospital officials said that along with the 16 dead in Falluja, 25 were wounded by a suicide bomber who detonated a vest of explosives. (Full story)

General: 'Race against time'

McCaffrey's seven-page memorandum, prepared for faculty and students at West Point where he teaches, concluded that victory in Iraq is a 10-year task and that the United States "will remain in a serious crisis in Iraq during the coming 24 months."

"There is no reason why the U.S. cannot achieve our objectives in Iraq," he wrote after an April visit with U.S. troops.

But winning the war will take more money for reconstruction, a greater commitment by U.S. agencies beyond the Pentagon and more funding for the Iraqi police, among other recommendations -- and McCaffrey questioned whether the United States is willing to make those commitments.

"We have few alternatives to the current U.S. strategy, which is painfully but gradually succeeding," he wrote. "This is now a race against time. Do we have the political will. Do we have the military power; will we spend the resources required to achieve our aims?"

The Pentagon offered no comment on the memo.

McCaffrey led the Army's 24th Infantry Division in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and served as the U.S. anti-drug czar in the Clinton administration. He is now a professor at the U.S. Military Academy and an analyst for NBC News.

In his memo, he concludes the Iraqi army is "real, growing and willing to fight."

But, he said, it will need two to five more years before it is capable of standing on its own. The Iraqis are badly equipped, lacking artillery, armored vehicles, air support and communications, he said.

Further, he said, Iraqi police will need 10 years and "significant resources" to overcome "a culture of inaction, passivity, human rights abuses and deep corruption," McCaffrey said.

The memo, dated April 25, came to light as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld faces a wave of criticism from other retired officers over his handling of the conflict. McCaffrey has been among those critics, but has not called for the secretary's resignation, as others have done.

He criticized the State Department's inability to order foreign service officers to Iraq, leaving only a handful of career diplomats to manage the U.S. mission there.

Meanwhile, he said, other departments have sent advisers to Iraq "in small numbers for too short time periods," sometimes quibbling over who will pay their $11 daily allowance for food.

"This bureaucratic nonsense is taking place in the context of a war costing $7 billion a month -- and a battalion of soldiers and Marines killed or wounded a month," he wrote.

McCaffrey wrote that most U.S. combat troops could be withdrawn from Iraq within three to five years, but he said Iraq would need $5 billion to $10 billion a year in economic assistance.

CNN's Arwa Damon, Jennifer Deaton, Cal Perry and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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