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Bomb attack on Iraq army patrol kills 12

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BAQUBA, Iraq, Feb 23 (Reuters) A bomb targeting an Iraqi army foot patrol killed 12 people and wounded 21 in the city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, today, an army source said.

Four civilians and the colonel commanding the patrol as it walked through a busy city-centre market were among the dead. The bomb was on a wooden handcart of the type used by traders.

Earlier in Baquba, which has large communities of all Iraq's main sectarian and ethnic groups, a man was killed when gunmen sprayed a Sunni mosque with bullets a day after the bombing of a major Shi'ite shrine in Samarra sparked widespread violence.

Baquba has been a centre for Sunni Arab insurgent groups and the surrounding province of Diyala has seen an upsurge in violence attributed to al Qaeda, much of it directed at police and troops loyal to the Shi'ite- and Kurdish-led government.

Iraqi security officials have said that al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, may be operating in Diyala.

Iraq's national security adviser said yesterday he believed Zarqawi's group was behind the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

REUTERS SHR KN1516

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