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Insurgents Mount More Attacks in Iraq


The latest attacks by insurgents in Iraq have left at least 24 people dead and dozens more wounded.

For a third consecutive day since a new Iraqi government was approved, insurgents mounted deadly attacks in and around the capital. Five policemen were killed at a checkpoint in eastern Baghdad when gunmen jumped out of a vehicle and began firing on local security forces.

Elsewhere, four civilians were killed by a car bomb blast that appeared to be intended for a U.S. military convoy that was passing nearby.

In northern Iraq, a suicide car bomb ripped through a Kurdish funeral, killing 15 people and wounding 30.

Insurgent attacks have killed about 90 people since Thursday.

Meanwhile, coalition and Iraqi forces have made several arrests in connection with last year's kidnapping and murder of British aid worker Margaret Hassan. Iraqi officials say five of those apprehended have admitted to involvement in her death.

The arrests were made during raids along the southern outskirts of Baghdad. The raids reportedly netted some articles believed to have belonged to Hassan, who had married an Iraqi and lived in the country for decades.

Iraq's new national security advisor, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, insists that, despite persistent insurgent activity, progress is being made in pacifying and democratizing his country. Speaking on CNN's Late Edition program, Mr. Al-Rubaie suggested that recent attacks are a sign of desperation on the part of democracy's foes.

"The more success and the more we achieve our objectives in the political process, the more we expect these terrorists to commit more crimes against our people," he said. "I can tell you we are quite confident, and this government is quite determined to get this violence ended, hopefully, by the end of the year."

The security advisor, who won a seat in Iraq's National Assembly, said insurgents were demoralized after his country's historic multiparty elections, but benefited from nearly three months of political discord, as efforts to form a new government were repeatedly frustrated.

Voicing greater concern is one of President Bush's Republican allies on Capitol Hill. In describing Iraq's current lack of security, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hegel pointed a finger at the initial U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

"We went in [invaded] way too light [without enough troops]. You cannot secure a nation like Iraq, as big as it is geographically and with the people, with 150,000 troops," said Mr. Hagel, speaking on the CBS program, Face the Nation. "This is a very complicated part of the world that we [the United States] never understood. We still do not understand it."

Senator Hagel noted that it has been two years since President Bush appeared under a banner proclaiming "mission accomplished" in the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Hagel said, in retrospect, that assertion was premature and showed poor judgment.

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