17 Iraqis dead after blast attacks

At least 17 Iraqis were killed today in a series of explosions that targeted police and US forces.

At least 17 Iraqis were killed today in a series of explosions that targeted police and US forces.

Near Kirkuk, 12 policemen who were dismantling an apparent decoy bomb were killed by another explosion. Three others were injured.

Police Brigadier Sarhat Qadir said the explosion occurred as a group of police were trying to cordon off the area. He said officials believed the bomb being dismantled was a decoy to draw in more police before the second bomb exploded.

In Baghdad, a US convoy was hit by a car bomb that killed five Iraqis and injured four US contract workers.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, said it it carried out the Baghdad attack, which the military said damaged a 4X4 vehicle and five civilian cars. The explosion left charred and burning cars on the infamous airport road.

“A member of our martyrdom seekers’ brigade mingled in an American military convoy at the airport road and exploded himself, destroying the infidels,” al-Qaida in Iraq said in an internet statement.

The violence came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s top deputy, Robert Zoellick, arrived in the war-battered capital.

On Tuesday, American troops battled arms smugglers and fighters near the Iraqi town of Qaim along the Syrian border, killing nine insrgents, the US military said today.

No Americans were injured, the US military said.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the Qaim clashes.

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