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Six die in spate of Baghdad attacks

A car bomb has exploded outside a Baghdad police station in the deadliest of a pair of attacks that killed six people in the Iraqi capital.

A suicide attacker drove the car up to a gate protecting the police post in western Baghdad's al-Amil neighbourhood during an early morning shift change on Monday when officers were gathered outside its blast walls.

The explosion killed four police officers and one civilian, and wounded 15 people, according to emergency security and hospital officials. Police quickly sealed off the blast site at a residential complex which was littered with rubble. The police station itself was relatively unscathed.

Members of Iraq's security forces and law enforcement officials have been a top target for insurgents, especially since US troops pulled out of Iraq's cities a year ago.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb hit an Iraqi police patrol in Baghdad's eastern Zayouna neighbourhood, wounding four policemen and a bystander, according to police officials.

Also in eastern Baghdad, a remote-controlled bomb exploded near a courthouse, missing a judge who was the target but wounding one of his bodyguards and several bystanders, police said.

Another bomb, stuck to the underside of a car in the central Allawi al-Hillah area, ripped the vehicle apart during rush-hour traffic, killing the driver and wounding three passengers, according to police and hospital officials.

Though violence has declined dramatically from a few years ago, attacks around the capital continue. The violence is a serious challenge for Iraq's police and military forces as US troops prepare to withdraw.

Adding to the sense of instability, Iraq's political leaders are still wrangling over who will control the next government three months after a parliamentary election. Iraqi and US officials fear insurgents and other extremist groups are taking advantage of the political stalemate to stage attacks aimed at reigniting sectarian violence. Most of the attacks have been blamed on a dwindling but determined core of al Qaida in Iraq militants or others linked to the terror group.

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