Saturday, March 19, 2005

Iraq, March 19 - Three police officers were killed Saturday morning in the northern city of Kirkuk when a bomb exploded near the funeral procession of an officer who was shot the day before, Iraqi officials said.

The attack came on the second anniversary of the American invasion, as political protests in many countries and scattered violence here underscored the instability that continues to afflict Iraq in the wake of Saddam Hussein's fall.

The attack in Kirkuk, in which five officers were wounded, was the latest of several recent attacks aimed at funeral processions, including a suicide bombing in Mosul last week that left at least 53 people dead.

Falluja, formerly an insurgent stronghold, has been engaged in a difficult reconstruction since the American invasion last fall, with American and Iraqi engineers struggling to rebuild the city's institutions so that residents who fled the violence can return in peace.

In Iraq's rebel stronghold of Ramadi, a suicide car bomber attacked an American military convoy on Saturday, Reuters quoted a police official as saying. No information on casualties was immediately available. A militant organization led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility on a Web site.

An American soldier was killed Friday in Baghdad when his patrol came under small-arms fire, American military officials said.

An unknown group said that it had kidnapped two Egyptian engineers in Iraq and issued a video that it said showed the hostages, according to an Internet posting on Saturday, Reuters reported.

In Baghdad, several dozen leaders of Iraq's Sunni Arabs gathered on Saturday to discuss their participation in the government and the writing of a constitution. The Sunnis, a powerful minority who formed Iraq's ruling class under Mr. Hussein, largely boycotted the elections.

The conference was organized by Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein, the leader of the Constitutional Monarchy Party. In his opening address, he urged Iraq's Sunnis - who form the core of the insurgency here - to become part of the new government.

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