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31 hurt in blast at base in Iraq

Car bomber stopped at entrance, US says

BAGHDAD -- Thirty-one US soldiers were injured early today in a car bomb attack on their barracks near Mosul, a day after gunmen killed a US soldier guarding a gas station in the same northern Iraqi city, the military said.

The injuries of the 31 soldiers were mostly caused by flying debris and none was life-threatening, the military said. Reuters news agency reported that a car believed to be driven by a suicide bomber failed to stop at an entry point to the soldiers' base. When soldiers fired at the vehicle, it exploded.

The blast followed the death of a soldier from the US Army's 101st Airborne Division, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said in Baghdad.

"Four Iraqi males traveling in vehicles stopped approximately 50 meters from a gas station in Mosul and opened fire on coalition soldiers guarding the station," Kimmitt said. "One coalition soldier died of gunshot wounds in that attack."

Hours after the killing, three US soldiers in Mosul were wounded when a bomb exploded as their patrol passed, a US military spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

On Sunday, a soldier was killed and two others were wounded when insurgents detonated a roadside bomb in Mosul.

Also yesterday, Iraqi police in Baqouba, 35 miles north of Baghdad, discovered an explosive device near the government building, Kimmitt said. A member of the police bomb squad tried to defuse the bomb, but it exploded and killed him.

Kimmitt said there were 18 engagements between Iraqi guerrillas and US-led coalition forces in the past week, a marked decline over previous weeks.

"These numbers are significantly lower than recent norms, although we anticipate and are fully prepared for any upturn in attacks in the days and weeks ahead," he said.

A total of 445 US soldiers have died in Iraq since the US-led invasion on March 20. Of those, 308 died in hostile action.

In other developments:

* A South Korean company said yesterday it would withdraw its 60 workers from a power line project in Iraq because gunmen killed two of its engineers. Seoul's Omu Electric Co. has been building transmission towers in the north of the country since October under contract with Washington Group International, based in Boise, Idaho.

* Witnesses in Mosul said dozens of US soldiers cordoned the city's central neighborhood of al-Muthana during a raid yesterday, inspecting cars and searching people walking in the streets. At least three helicopters flew overhead at low altitude. "We are looking for bad guys," a soldier said without elaborating.

* On Sunday, US troops in Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad, seized $1.9 million in cash and false identification papers in a raid targeting a man suspected of financing insurgents, said Major Josslyn Aberle, spokeswoman for the Fourth Infantry Division.

"They didn't catch the original target, but they detained one of his relatives and seized the money," Aberle said.

* Iraq's Governing Council chose a dentist to replace Aquila al-Hashimi, a Shi'ite Muslim member of the 25-seat group who was assassinated in September, a council statement said. Salama al-Khufaji, a Shi'ite professor of dentistry at Baghdad University, replaced Hashimi, who was mortally wounded Sept. 20. Hashimi was the highest Iraqi official killed by suspected loyalists of Saddam Hussein. The council statement said Khufaji, one of three women on the council, comes from the southern Shiite holy city of Karbala.

Overseen by the US-led coalition, the Governing Council was installed on July 13

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