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Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 50 in Northern Iraq


A suicide bomber has targeted a funeral in northern Iraq, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 20 in one of the deadliest attacks in recent months.

Police and survivors say the bomber blew himself up Thursday in a village near Kirkuk, after entering a tent where mourners were gathered. The funeral was for two members of a local group that has been fighting al-Qaida in Iraq forces.

The violence is the latest in a series of fatal bombings this week in Sunni Arab areas. On Tuesday more than 50 people were killed and almost 100 wounded in attacks in Baquba and Ramadi. U.S. and Iraqi military authorities blamed al-Qaida for the attacks.

Elsewhere, in Baghdad's Sadr City, officials say fresh battles broke out late Wednesday between troops and Shi'ite militants, and the U.S. military says it launched an air strike there. Unconfirmed casualty figures vary from two dead and 18 wounded to double those figures.

At NATO headquarters in Brussels Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged the alliance to provide more equipment and training for Iraqi troops.

Earlier this week, Mr. Maliki said he was confident that al-Qaida in Iraq would be defeated.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Washington Thursday that al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgent groups have been significantly weakened, as Iraqi authorities take control of the cities where the insurgents base their operations.

Coalition forces today said they captured two wanted al-Qaida in Iraq terrorist suspects and nine other suspects in operations throughout the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.