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Anti-Qaeda tribal sheikh among more than 20 killed in Iraq attacks

Bomb and other attacks in Iraq killed more than 20 people on Thursday, including a tribal sheikh involved in fighting Al-Qaeda, a day after a bid to assassinate the Polish ambassador, officials said.

Sheikh Maawia Naji Jebara and five bodyguards were killed in central Salaheddin province when a roadside bomb exploded under their convoy near the central city of Samarra, a senior police officer told AFP.

Jebara, who received serious head injuries in the attack, died later in a US military hospital, an official at the Kirkuk joint coordination centre said.

He was a senior member of the Salaheddin Awakening Council, a coalition of tribes in the Tikrit district formed to fight Al-Qaeda.

Jebara was travelling on the main road near Samarra, about 100 kilometres (63 miles) north of Baghdad, when the blast occurred mid-afternoon, the police official said.

The mayor of Iskandariyah, a mixed Shiite-Sunni town 60 kilometres south of Baghdad, and four of his bodyguards were killed by a roadside bomb on their way to work, police said. Another bodyguard was wounded.

"An improvised explosive device planted at the side of the road exploded while the vehicle of Abbas al-Khafaji, mayor of the district, was passing by," a police official said.

The mayor and four of his bodyguards died, the official said.

Two car bombs also exploded in the Iraqi capital, killing at least seven people, interior ministry and defence officials said.

A bomb in a minibus exploded in Al-Zafaraniyah in southeast Baghdad, killing four people and wounding eight, while another killed three and wounded eight in Garage Amana in the centre of the capital.

Separately, gunmen killed police Brigadier General Ihsan Abdul Karim in a drive-by shooting as he left his home in Babel, south of Baghdad, police said.

Late afternoon, a suicide car bomber blew himself at a crowded market place in the northern town of Tal Afar, killing three people and wounding 57, said the mayor of the town, Brigadier Najem Abdallah.

The attack in the town of Sunni and Shiite Turkomans took place about an hour before sunset, when Muslims observing Ramadan were to break their daily fast, Abdallah said.

A Sunni MP, meanwhile, was among nearly two dozen people detained at the weekend when the US military raided a suspected Al-Qaeda gathering, a parliamentary spokesman said on Thursday.

Nayyif Jassim Mohammed from the Concord Front, the main Sunni Arab bloc in parliament, was among those seized in Sharqat, about 300 kilometres northwest of the Iraqi capital, the spokesman told AFP.

The attack on Jebara in Salaheddin comes three weeks after prominent tribal leader Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha was killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, capital of western Anbar province, claimed later by Al-Qaeda.

Abu Reesha was the pioneer of the so-called Awakening process which is spreading across the country whereby tribesmen are banding together and joining US forces to chase Al-Qaeda out of their districts.

Al-Qaeda after the assassination of Abu Reesha warned it would target others involved in similar initiatives alongside the US military.

The wave of attacks came a day after Poland's ambassador narrowly survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad that left one Polish bodyguard and two Iraqis dead.

Three roadside bombs, timed to go off at short intervals, ripped through ambassador Edward Pietrzyk's convoy on Wednesday as he left his residence in the Al-Arasat neighbourhood.

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