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Iraqi Forces Tout Terrorist Attack Decline

The Iraqi military said Wednesday the number of "terrorist attacks" in June declined 85 percent from the same period a year ago.

An average of 25 attacks took place each day in June, compared to 160 during the same month in 2007, said Iraqi army spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Mousawi during a press conference. He did not provide details on the individual attacks included in the figures.

Despite the security gains, frequent attacks continue throughout the country.

The Iraqi military said five civilians were killed when a suicide car bomber targeted a military convoy carrying a top Iraqi commander. The attack happened Wednesday in Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, chief of operations in Ninevah province, escaped unharmed. But the military says five civilians were killed and 22 people, including seven of the commander's guards, were injured.

A bomb went off outside a bank in the one-time Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah on Wednesday, killing four policemen and a civilian, Iraqi police said.

An initial blast went off at the scene at 6:30 a.m., drawing a crowd and police to the area. Then a second bomb went off, causing the deaths and wounding 15 people in the city, west of Baghdad, a police official said. The injured included an Iraqi television cameraman.

The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The attack came a day after Iraqi officials stepped up pressure on the United States to agree to a specific timeline to withdraw American forces, a sign of the government's growing confidence as violence falls.

Assailants killed a policeman Wednesday in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul, where many insurgents are believed to have relocated after facing intense military pressure in Baghdad and other urban centers.

Police in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, said workers who were rebuilding a primary school discovered 22 bodies, most of them under concrete in a playing field. A police official, who earlier said only five bodies were discovered, said the remains were believed to have been buried more than a year ago.

Relatives of missing people were summoned to the site Tuesday. Those identified included a Muslim cleric whose wife recognized his clothes, the official said on condition of anonymity because of security reasons.

Ramadi, like Fallujah, was a stronghold of the Sunni-led insurgency, but violence there has dropped sharply since Sunni tribal leaders and their fighters formed an alliance with the U.S. military.

In other developments:

  • In written remarks prepared for a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik said that the size of Iraq's forces have grown by more than a quarter in the past year, from 444,000 to 566,000. They also are improving their ability to execute operations on their own. But they still lack experienced military leaders and have yet to become proficient at training new recruits, added Dubik, who until last week led the Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq.
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