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Iraq Transition

Attackers kill 35 in Baghdad, Kirkuk; 30 bodies found

Story Highlights

• United States aid convoy attacked; four dead
• Five Iranians seized last week remain in custody, U.S. military officer says
• Schools face "intimidation campaign," U.N. report says
Car bomb kills at least 17, wounds 35 in Sadr City
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Explosions and gunfire in the Iraqi capital and the northern city of Kirkuk claimed 35 lives Wednesday.

Most deaths occurred at the Kirkuk police station, where 10 people were killed, according to police, and the Shiite stronghold in Baghdad, Sadr City, where at least 17 people were killed, according to an Interior Ministry official.

In addition, a roadside bomb in central Baghdad killed a police officer on patrol and wounded two others, an Interior Ministry official said.

The convoy of a U.S. aid group also was attacked in Baghdad, leaving a female American staffer and three security people dead, according to a representative for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. The group's regional director identified the security personnel as Hungarian, Croatian and Iraqi nationals. (Watch how U.S. troops are handling the relentless cycle of violence Video)

None of the victims was identified.

NDI is an international group that helps strengthen political parties, works with parliaments, helps in elections, and provides assistance to Iraqi nongovernmental organizations.

"There is no more sacred roll of honor than those who have given their last full measure in support of freedom," NDI chairwoman and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in a statement. "Today, in Iraq, four new names have been enshrined on that list."

Gunmen killed a professor at Baghdad University's veterinary school, and in a separate incident, a civilian and a policeman in eastern Baghdad, according to the Interior Ministry. Police also found 30 bodies across the capital, the Interior Ministry added.

In a grim statistic released Tuesday by the United Nations, more than 34,000 civilians were "violently killed" across Iraq in 2006, an average of 94 every day. The bimonthly report singled out sectarian violence as "a major cause for an ever-growing trend in displacement and migration of all Iraqis, as well as the targeting of various professional groups." (Full story)

Also, educational institutions in Iraq were being subjected to an "intimidation campaign," the report said. "Academics have apparently been singled out for their relatively respected public status, vulnerability and views on controversial issues in a climate of deepening Islamic extremism," the report said.

Its release came on the same day as the deadly attack on Mustansiriya University, which killed 70 people and left 170 injured. Last month, gunmen killed the school's assistant law dean and another faculty member.

The deadly car bomb attack in Sadr City Wednesday wounded 35 people, the Interior Ministry official told CNN. The violent Shiite slum serves as a bastion of support for anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia, which is thought to be heavily involved in Iraq's sectarian violence.

In Kirkuk, 42 people were wounded in the deadly blast. A bomber had parked a truck next to the police station and fled when police asked him to move it, police there said Wednesday.

The explosives detonated remotely, police said. The blast heavily damaged the station, leaving a number of people trapped under the rubble and causing structural damage to other buildings.

The oil-rich city -- where Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Sunnis, Shiites and Christians live in a cauldron of tension -- has seen a "deteriorating human rights situation," according to the U.N.'s bimonthly report on human rights in Iraqi cities. Since 2003, the city has seen a significant increase in violent acts "widely believed to be the doing of perpetrators and instigators from inside and outside Iraq and Kirkuk," the report said.

Other developments

  • Two U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq's Anbar province, the U.S. military said on Wednesday. A soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died on Wednesday, and another soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday, the military said. The deaths bring the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq to 3,019 and the number killed in January to 22. Seven military contractors also have been killed.
  • U.S.-led coalition forces detained 28 people during raids "of foreign terrorist safe houses" across Iraq early Wednesday, the U.S. military said. Among those detained were a senior al Qaeda bomb coordinator and a weapons dealer in Mosul, the military said. Ten people were detained in Ramadi, and nine were detained in Yusufiya, the military added.
  • The five Iranian nationals seized last week in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil remain in custody, while authorities are investigating their activities, a U.S. military officer said Wednesday. A preliminary investigation found links between the detainees and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has provided funds, weapons, bomb technology and training to extremist groups in Iraq, the coalition said Sunday. Iranian government officials have denounced the detentions and characterized the place that was raided as an Iranian liaison office. But the coalition cited Iraqi and U.S. officials as saying, the site "did not enjoy the diplomatic status of a consulate."
  • The senior U.S. diplomat in Sudan was summoned to Khartoum on Wednesday. Sudan accused American troops of raiding the Sudanese Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, in violation of diplomatic conventions, a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters. In Baghdad, U.S. spokesman Christopher Garver said he had no knowledge of any such raid, according to Reuters. (Full story)
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