Suicide bomber kills at least 5 Iraqi policemen: medics

MOSUL, Iraq Mon Mar 4, 2013 9:39am EST

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MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - A suicide bomber in a car killed at least five policemen and wounded 12 people, including civilians, on Monday in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, police and medics said.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack but suicide bombings are the hallmark of al Qaeda's local wing, the Islamic State of Iraq, which aims to take back ground lost to the Iraqi security forces.

The bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives up to a federal police headquarters in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, and detonated it.

In separate incidents, two soldiers and three policemen were wounded when two roadside bombs exploded in eastern Mosul.

Mosul is a stronghold of the Islamic State of Iraq and the rate of attacks on security forces deployed there has increased significantly since the beginning of the year.

The violence is stoking fears of a return to intercommunal strife following the withdrawal of U.S. troops in December 2011.

Sunni Muslims across Iraq have staged more than two months of protests against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government over what they say is the marginalization of their minority sect and the misuse of terrorism laws to target Sunnis.

The conflict in neighboring Syria, where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite backed by Shi'ite Iran, is also whipping up sectarian tensions in Iraq and across the wider region.

(Reporting by Sufyan al-Mashhasdani, Writing by Suadad al-Salhy; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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