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Car Bomb, Mortar Fire Claim Casualties in Northern Iraq

Another bloody day in Iraq as sectarian violence continues to destabilize the war torn country. A powerful car bomb killed at least 11 people in the northern city of Mosul, and eight people died in an explosion in Kirkuk.

Officials in Mosul say a suicide bomber attacked a central police station early in the day.

Mosul's governor, Dureid Kashmula, says at least one officer was killed, but most of the victims were civilians.

He says the attack highlights just how desperate the city's terrorists have become.

The bomb tore into a long line of motorists waiting to buy fuel at a nearby gas station.

Suspected Sunni Muslim rebels also fired mortars and machine guns at separate police stations across Mosul, killing another nine people.

Mosul remains a stronghold for Sunni insurgents who have led a series of attacks inside the city in recent months.

Kashmula imposed a city-wide curfew after the attacks, and Iraqi forces have been deployed throughout the area.

Fighting also erupted in several locations across Baghdad. A pair of roadside bombs killed four people in the capital's southern Dora district. An armed attack on a nearby police station killed another four policemen.

The U.S. military confirmed 12 American troops have been killed this week in Iraq, 71 this month. The mounting casualty count has intensified the pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, to find ways to stem the country's surging sectarian violence.

Wednesday, Maliki met with Iraq's top two Shi'ite clerics, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr.

Sistani has largely remained on the sidelines in recent months, but Sadr is well known for his anti-American rhetoric. He also heads the powerful Mahdi Army Militia, accused of targeting Iraq's minority Sunni communities.

After the meeting, all three men condemned the violence, but no one has produced any specific plans on how to improve security in Iraq.