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Middle East

Suicide attack in Baghdad kills 28

A suicide bomber killed 28 people and wounded 28 others today during a tour by tribal leaders and security officials of a crowded market in western Baghdad, a security official said.

Major-General Qassim Moussawi said the attack took place as the dignitaries, including army officers, toured a market in the Abu Ghraib district.

A police source said 25 people had been killed and 20 wounded, but that the attack took place as the dignitaries were leaving a tribal gathering at the Abu Ghraib municipal headquarters.

Journalists, police and soldiers were among those killed, the source said.

A source at Yarmouk hospital, the main hospital in western Baghdad, said it had received the body of a journalist working for al-Baghdadiya, an independent television station. Another journalist with al-Iraqiya state television was wounded, he said.

While violence has dropped sharply in Iraq since the height of the sectarian and insurgent bloodshed unleashed by the US-led invasion in 2003, insurgents continue to stage regular attacks, especially in the volatile northern city of Mosul.

Improved security has encouraged Iraqis to cautiously resume a more normal life in Baghdad, but violence continues there, too. On Sunday, a suicide bomber killed 28 people and wounded 57 at the main police academy.

The US is planning to reduce its troop force of around 140,000 ahead of a full withdrawal date by the end of 2011, raising questions about whether local security forces will be ready to prevent Iraq sliding back into large-scale bloodshed.