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Iraqi insurgents unleash new wave of attacks

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents reasserted themselves in a spasm of deadly attacks after days of reported setbacks, killing 17 Iraqi security forces in four separate car bombings, gunning down five Iraqi women working for American troops and assassinating a senior Iraqi military official, authorities said Friday.

In an effort to counter support for the insurgency among minority Sunni Arabs, the interim government’s deputy prime minister, Barham Saleh, said negotiators had intensified efforts to include the Sunnis in the still-to-be-formed government.

But the attempt has caused delays in agreeing on a new leadership, prompting public frustration.

“It is not acceptable that two months on from the elections, that Iraq does not have a transitional government yet,” Saleh told the Associated Press in an interview. “We are under pressure, and we have to respond to public sentiment and have a government established as soon as possible.”

And as the negotiations dragged on, insurgents bent on stopping the creation of a new leadership intensified attacks on Iraqi security forces, whose deployment and success are seen as the key to an eventual American withdrawal.

Twin suicide car bombings Friday in Iskandriyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, targeted an Iraqi army convoy and police barracks, killing four policemen, two civilians and an Iraqi soldier, police officials said. Eight other members of the security forces and 15 civilians were injured.

Another suicide car bombing Friday targeted an Iraqi convoy south of Baghdad and killed one Iraqi soldier and wounded four others, police said.

Late Thursday at a checkpoint in the central city of Ramadi, a white sedan was blown up, killing 11 Iraqi soldiers and wounding 14 people – including two U.S. Army soldiers, nine Iraqi security forces and three civilians – the U.S. military said.

The Islamic Army in Iraq posted an Internet statement claiming responsibility.

A second car bomb exploded Friday in the city center, targeting a U.S.-Iraqi convoy. The two insurgents in the car were killed, but no one else was hurt.

In Baghdad on Friday, unknown gunmen assassinated Col. Salman Muhammad Hassan, who helped lead an Iraqi army division based in the southern city of Basra, and wounded two of his sons as they left a relative’s funeral in Baghdad, security officials said. Police also said Friday they found two decapitated bodies clad in Iraqi army uniforms a day earlier on a road north of the capital.

Along a road near Kirkuk, attackers ambushed a Defense Ministry officer, identified only as Col. Sarajeddin, and kidnapped him, Iraqi army Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin said.

In Baghdad on Thursday, five women translators who worked for the U.S. military were gunned down by insurgents as they returned home from work, police Capt. Ahmed Aboud said.

Near Abu Ghraib, firefighters worked to extinguish an oil-pipeline blaze ignited by insurgent bombs. The conduit connects Iraq’s northern oil fields with a Baghdad-area refinery.

The U.S. military said four insurgents were killed and two were detained during an attempted ambush in the northern city of Mosul.

Still, the reported gains against militants have been impossible to verify, including the Iraqi government’s claim that it killed 85 insurgents Tuesday during a raid on a suspected training camp.