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Suicide bomber kills nine police in north Iraq


A suicide bomber killed nine Kurdish policemen in northern Iraq on Sunday, while five people died in other attacks, officials said.

With the latest attacks, violence has killed more than 730 people in July and over 3,000 since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

The suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near a police convoy in the town of Tuz Khurmatu in Salaheddin province, also wounding nine officers, district official Shalal Abdul Baban told AFP.

A doctor and police confirmed the toll.

The town is part of a swathe of northern territory that Iraqi Kurds want to incorporate into their three-province autonomous region over the strong objections of the federal government in Baghdad.

Diplomats and officials say the dispute is one of the main threats to Iraq's long-term stability.

Security forces meanwhile began a major operation on Sunday in Diyala, Salaheddin and Kirkuk provinces, aimed at tracking down those behind bombings and assassinations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Lieutenant General Abdulamir al-Zaidi said.

All three provinces have been hit by frequent attacks, including in recent weeks.

In Baghdad, a magnetic "sticky bomb" on a bus killed two people and wounded eight on Sunday, while gunmen killed a policeman and wounded two others in Samarra, north of the capital, officials said.

And three attacks in the southern province of Basra killed tribal leader Sheikh Issa al-Othman and an employee of the Southern Oil Company, and wounded a civilian and three policemen.

Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni Arab minority that the government has failed to address has fuelled the surge this year.