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Police: Iraq president's guard kills journalist

BAGHDAD (AP) — An officer in the Iraqi president's guard shot dead a well-known radio journalist during a quarrel Saturday near the leader's east Baghdad residence, police said.

The shooting of Radio Free Iraq's Baghdad bureau chief Mohammed Bdaiwi drew condemnation from Iraqi politicians and highlights the resentment many residents of the capital feel toward the often aggressive bodyguards of Iraq's VIPs.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a series of attacks killed 16 members of the security forces and civilians, officials said. Bdaiwi was allegedly shot by a junior officer working for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at a checkpoint near his residence, police said. Talabani is an ethnic Kurd and his bodyguards are also Kurdish.

After the shooting, Iraqi security forces besieged the residency compound and the alleged killer was handed over to them, police and state TV said. Talabani suffered a stroke last year and is being treated in Germany. Few details have been released about his health since then.

His office issued a statement expressing deep sorry of the "murder" of Bdaiwi. "This act runs against all the values of the Presidential Brigade ... We stress that the perpetrator will stand trial and receive his fair punishment," it said.

State-run TV showed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki arriving at the crime scene near the presidential palace. "All the people behind this should stand trial. Blood for blood and this is a violation of the law," he said

Meanwhile a series of blasts struck across the country. Police officials said the wave began with a roadside bomb in a commercial street in the northern city of Tikrit. Minutes later, a car bomb struck policemen who had arrived to inspect the site of the first blast.

The officials say five policemen and two civilians were killed and 18 people were wounded in the bombings. Tikrit is 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad. Hours later, police said a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a security checkpoint near the town of Adeim about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad. Three civilians and three police were killed.

Also, a roadside bomb hit a military checkpoint near the northern city of Mosul, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, according to the police. The Iraqi security forces are a favorite target for Sunni insurgents who attempt to undermine the Shiite-led government.

Violence has spiked in Iraq since last April, a surge unseen since 2008. The relentless attacks have become the government's most serious challenge. In the southern city of Basra, gunmen shot dead police Col. Madhi Ashour, the head of the crime investigation department in the city as he was walking near his house, said police.

Violence is less common in the Shiite-dominated south, although Shiite militias and criminal gangs operate there. Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures from all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

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