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UPDATED: 15:49, September 18, 2004
Five killed in suicide car bombing, three taken hostage in Iraq
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Violence raged on in Iraq on Friday, with five Iraqis killed in a suicide car bombing in Baghdad and three more Turkish drivers reportedly kidnapped.

Health Ministry officials said 20 people, including some policemen, were also wounded in the suicide attack, which occurred at about 12:40 p.m. (0840 GMT) in central Baghdad.

According to police, the suicide bomber blew up his car at Haifa Street, when a police convoy was passing by from Rashid Street.

Health ministry official feared that the blast was likely to incur huge casualties, but further details were not available yet.Earlier, a government spokesman had put the death toll at 13.

A string of bloody attacks have rattled Iraq throughout the week, as the US military fought to regain control of guerrilla strongholds and restore security so that elections can be held in January as planned.

On Tuesday, a suicide car bomb attack on a police station killed 47 people, the deadliest attack in Baghdad in six months.

The US military said it launched an air strike Thursday night near Falluja and killed about 60 foreign fighters loyal to Jordanian al-Qaida ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Early on Friday, US warplanes destroyed a compound in south central Falluja that the US military said was also used by Zarqawi's militants. Iraq's Health Ministry said at least 45 civilians had been killed in the air strikes.

On Friday evening, US aircraft again bombed Falluja, destroyingbfour houses, residents said. Doctors there said at least six people were killed.

In the southern city of Basra, British troops on Friday raided an office allegedly used by supporters of rebel Iraqi cleric Moqtada al Sadr, seizing a large quantity of weapons and explosives, a military spokesman said.

The raid, involving around 100 troops, followed an ambush on a British patrol in Basra earlier on Friday in which one soldier waswounded, Major Charlie Mayo told the press.

"The ambush was sprung from (Sadr's) old offices in the center of Basra," Mayo said. "We mounted this operation because it was necessary to remove a threat."

The ambush took place when a two-vehicle patrol came under small arms fire in the early evening. Three hours later, British troops sealed off the area and raided the office in what Mayo called a "surgical operation."

Amid the bombings and other violence, Iraqi militants on Friday kidnapped three more Turkish truck drivers in Dujail district in the north of Baghdad, according to Turkey's private NTV television.

NTV reported that the Iraqi armed men had abducted the three Turkish drivers on the way to the city of Tikrit. The names of the kidnapped Turkish drivers have not been identified.

Several other Turkish men, mostly truck drivers, had been kidnapped in Iraq in the past, but most have been released.

Source: Xinhua

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