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Gunmen Kill 17 Iraqi Police Near Basra


Iraqi police say gunmen have ambushed a bus carrying staff members of an Iraqi police training school, killing at least 17 people.

The victims worked as instructors and translators at a British-run police academy near the southern city of Basra. Officials said their bodies were dumped around the majority Shi'ite city.

Earlier, the U.S. military said coalition forces killed 17 militants as they prepared to ambush coalition troops near Balad, north of Baghdad.

In Baghdad, police say they have found at least 25 bodies of people tortured and killed by sectarian death squads. Gunmen also shot dead two policemen in the Iraqi capital today.

Speaking on American television (CNN) Sunday, U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, played down a reported dispute between Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.S. officials.

Khalilzad said the U.S. did not try to impose goals and timetables on Iraq's government.

On Saturday, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reaffirmed their partnership after a week of public tension over what Mr. Bush had called "benchmarks" that Washington hopes Iraq will achieve.

In a joint statement, the two agreed to speed up the training of Iraqi forces to accelerate the transfer of security to Iraq.

They also decided to set up a panel of Iraqi and U.S. officials to provide guidance on achieving stability in Iraq. The panel will include Iraq's ministers of defense, interior and national security, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, General George Casey, and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

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