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Coordinated attack in Iraq kills 7 policemen

BAGHDAD (AP) — A coordinated attack Monday against police headquarters in a former al-Qaida stronghold in central Iraq killed seven policemen, officials said.

The attack in the city of Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad, involved at least two suicide bombers and several gunmen, a police official said. One bomber detonated his explosives-laden belt at the main checkpoint outside the Fallujah police headquarters, while the second blew himself up near the building gates as security forces engaged in a shootout with other gunmen, the official said.

Later, the gunmen fled to an electricity department building nearby, taking two policemen and two guards hostage, he added. That prompted sporadic clashes with security forces. A few hours later, the four were freed, two militants were killed and three attackers were arrested.

A medical official confirmed the causality figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media. Also on Monday, authorities raised the death toll from a suicide attack the day before on a crowded cafe in the primarily Shiite neighborhood of Amil in southwestern Baghdad. The police said 41 people were killed and 65 were wounded in that attack, bringing the death toll from Sunday's violence across Iraq to 51.

Iraq has seen a surge in militant attacks and violence since a deadly April crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in a northern town. At least 398 people have died in attacks in Iraq so far this month, according to an Associated Press count.

No one has claimed responsibility for the latest attacks, but coordinated suicide and car bombings are favorite tactics of al-Qaida's local branch. The terror group frequently targets Shiites, whom it considers heretics, and those seen as closely allied to the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

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