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Iraq: Bombs kill more than 30 in Baghdad, Mosul

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BAGHDAD — A suicide bombing tore through a line of recruits waiting to enter a police academy as multiple blasts struck Iraqi security forces Monday, killing at least 33 people and wounding dozens including four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi general.

The wave of violence in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul occurred as U.S. combat deaths for November dropped to one of the lowest monthly levels of the war _ eight _ a sign that extremists are focusing on Iraqi forces as the U.S. scales down its battlefield role.

Insurgents appear to be increasingly targeting Iraqi forces who are more vulnerable than the heavily armored U.S. troops even as the Iraqis try to take over their own security so the Americans can go home.

The bloodiest attack in the capital began when a suicide bomber _ apparently a teenage boy _ detonated an explosives vest packed with ball-bearings as recruits were lined up to be searched at an entrance to the heavily fortified Baghdad police academy.

Within minutes, a car parked about 150 yards away exploded, apparently aimed at those responding to the initial blast, the U.S. military said.

At least 16 people _ five policemen and 11 recruits _ were killed and nearly 50 wounded, according to police and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.

Bloodied police uniforms and combat boots were scattered with the crumpled metal hulk of the car bomb on the charred street after the bombings.

Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi's office gave a slightly lower toll of 11 killed, while the U.S. military said 12 Iraqi police were killed.

One wounded 22-year-old recruit said he had been standing in line with other applicants at the time of the attack.

"We came today for an appointment at the academy and I learned later that some of my friends were killed in the second explosion," Ali Nasir said. "It seems that there is no security and terrorism will not end."

The twin bombings occurred shortly after a roadside bomb elsewhere in Baghdad targeted Maj. Gen. Mudhir al-Mola, a senior government official overseeing affairs related to U.S.-allied fighters who recently have been turned over to government control in the capital.

A bodyguard was killed, but al-Mola escaped with minor injuries, according to the U.S. military.

Another roadside bomb struck a police patrol in eastern Baghdad, killing one officer and wounding four other people.

In Mosul, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives as a joint U.S.-Iraqi convoy drove by in a crowded commercial area, police said.

Mohammed al-Nuaimi, a 30-year-old employee of a nearby tire store who was wounded, said local businessmen had received verbal warnings to leave the area.

"We started to close our shops and people were trying to flee when a U.S.-Iraqi convoy passed. One minute later, a big explosion took place," he said.

At least 15 people were killed and 30 wounded in that attack, officials said.

The U.S. military said eight Iraqi civilians were killed and 34 people wounded, including four U.S. soldiers.

Conflicting casualty tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Baghdad, blamed the police academy bombings and the attempt on the Iraqi general on al-Qaida.

The carnage took place despite a downturn in violent deaths.

At least 17 U.S. troop deaths were recorded in November in Iraq, according to an Associated Press count, but only eight of those occurred during fighting. The military often doesn't release details about noncombat deaths, but the term usually refers to suicides or accidents.

The toll was a sharp drop from the 37 Americans who died in November 2007 _ all but eight in combat, the AP tally showed. In all, at least 4,207 U.S. service members have died since the war began in March 2003.

Despite persistent violence, the number of Iraqi civilians and security forces killed in November also plummeted to 360, half the death toll from the same period last year, according to figures based on AP reporting. That continues a downward trend of Iraqi casualties that began in May and was the lowest monthly toll since the AP began tracking them in May 2005.

In northern Iraq, meanwhile, Iraqi police found a mass grave containing the bodies of 12 men believed to have been killed a week ago near the village of Qara Hassan, regional police officer Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said.

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Associated Press writers Hamid Ahmed and Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.