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More Than 20 Killed in Latest Car Bomb Attacks in Baghdad and Mosul - 2004-10-04

Car bombings in Baghdad and Iraq's northern city of Mosul killed at least 24 people Monday, as Iraqi and U.S. troops pressed ahead with efforts to restore security in the country.

A blast near the entrance of Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses Iraq's interim government, killed 15 people. A short time later, another bomb in a hotel district killed at least six more people.

Hospital officials say the first of two blasts in Mosul killed three people, including two bombers. Hours later, a second blast injured one U.S. soldier.

Elsewhere, assassins killed an Iraqi police commander near Baquba and a senior science ministry official in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces carried out more airstrikes in Fallujah against insurgent targets. And Iraqi officials announced that 40 foreign fighters were captured during raids in Samarra by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

In other developments, militants in Iraq have freed two Indonesian women they held hostage for several days.

The women were handed over to the United Arab Emirates embassy in Baghdad Monday.

Their kidnappers had demanded Indonesia release an Islamic cleric, Abu Bakar Bashir, suspected of terrorist links. But the jailed cleric condemned the kidnappings and said he would not take part in an exchange.

Meanwhile, radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on insurgents to free two Frenchmen they abducted weeks ago. The cleric told Lebanon's al-Manar television that France is not part of what he calls the occupation of Iraq. He said it is unacceptable to kidnap anyone who is not taking part in or backing the occupation.