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Nine die in Iraqi suicide attack

Suspected al Qaida fanatics attacked an Iraqi government compound, detonating a suicide car bomb outside and then breaching the building's perimeter.

Nine people were killed, including at least three of the attackers.

The attack in Baqouba bore the hallmarks of the insurgent group, al Qaida in Iraq. It also raised questions about how prepared Iraqi security forces are to protect the country when American troops leave by the end of this year.

"The aim of such an attack is to create more chaos and to hinder any attempts to push the country forward," said Abdullah Hassan, a member of the provincial council that had been scheduled to meet at the site.

The assault started with a suicide car bomb at the entrance to the compound allowing the other attackers to enter.

Two attackers were killed in the compound's yard surrounding the provincial government building, while a third got into the building and began shooting.

He killed three civilians inside the reception area before he was wounded by security forces.

The attack was similar to an assault carried out in March against a government compound in Tikrit.

Gunmen in that attack wore military uniforms over explosives belts and charged into a government building in Saddam Hussein's hometown. The attack left 56 people dead, and the five-hour stand-off ended only when the attackers blew themselves up in one of the bloodiest days in Iraq this year.

Violence in Iraq has dropped dramatically since the most vicious of the Shiite-Sunni sectarian fighting just a few years ago. But militant groups have demonstrated their continued capability to carry out violent attacks.

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