At least 14 killed in Iraq suicide bomb blasts

And narrow escape for cargo jet hit by Baghdad missile
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The Independent Online

Suicide attackers detonated two vehicles today at police stations in towns north-east of Baghdad, and at least 14 people were killed, US and Iraqi officials said.

In Baghdad, a cargo plane operated by the Belgium-based DHL landed this morning at Baghdad International Airport with its wing ablaze. The US military said it was unclear if it had been struck by ground fire. But a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the plane was struck by a SAM-7 surface-to-air missile.

The attacks on the police stations in Khan Bani Saad and nearby Baqouba - which occurred within a half hour - came after US intelligence reports warning of an upsurge in attacks near the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which comes to a close in a few days.

In Khan Bani Saad, a market town on the north-eastern outskirts of Baghdad, 10 people were killed, including six policemen, three civilians and the vehicle's driver, according to Captain Ryan McCormick of the 4th Infantry Division. Iraqi police said one of the dead was a five-year-old girl. Ten people were wounded, McCormick said.

In Baqouba, about 12 miles north-east of Baghdad, three policemen and their driver were killed. One policeman was missing, Lieutenant Wisam Ahmed said. Officials said at least 10 civilians were hurt.

A police spokesman said he saw a white vehicle approach the police station at normal speed. As the driver approached the gate, police signalled him to stop but instead he detonated the vehicle.

"There was a driver inside the car," he said.

There have been five vehicle bombings in Iraq since Wednesday, mostly targeting Iraqis who support the coalition.

In Brussels, Belgium, a spokeswoman for DHL said one of its Airbus 300 planes was headed from Baghdad to Bahrain this morning with three crew members on board when it turned around and made an emergency landing. The spokeswoman, Patricia Thomson, said the cause of the emergency was not immediately clear.

A US military spokeswoman, Captain Carrie Clear, also said the cause of the emergency was under investigation.

A military source, however, said the plane had been struck by a missile, and the damage appeared consistent with effects of such an explosion. A photograph taken from the ground showed flames at the spot where the ailerons and flaps meet on the left wing's trailing edge.