A suicide car bomb attack in the northern town of Kirkuk and fighting between US forces and insurgents near Mosul killed 30 people yesterday as rebels seized a Turkish truck driver and threatened to kill him unless the company he works for halted its operations in Iraq. Ambulances raced to the scene of the blast in Kirkuk, where seven cars were ablaze. Rescue personnel ferried the wounded away on stretchers. Some waited for attention while sprawled on the building’s steps. Thirty-six people were injured. “This is a terrorist act against members of Iraqi police who were heading home,” said Kirkuk police Col. Sarhat Qadir. In Tal Afar, a town near Mosul, a US observation helicopter was hit by enemy fire and forced to make an emergency landing amid the fighting, said US Army Capt. Angela Bowman. The aircraft’s two crew members were wounded, she said. Fawazi Mohammed, the head of the local hospital, said at least eight people died and another 50 were wounded during the clashes. Many of the casualties were caused by a mortar shell explosion in a Tal Afar market, authorities said. American soldiers killed two insurgents and captured another, while three Iraqi national guardsmen were injured in the fighting, the military said. Al-Arabiya television aired a videotape by militants threatening to behead the Turkish truck driver if his employers and the Kuwaiti contractor they work for did not cease operations in Iraq within 48 hours, informs Arab News. According to VOANews, violence across Iraq Saturday has killed at least 31 people. In the northern oil center of Kirkuk, police say a suicide attacker exploded a car bomb near a police academy, killing at least 17 people and wounding many others. Near Mosul, in the town of Tal Afar, doctors say at least 11 people have been killed and more than 50 injured in heavy fighting between U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and insurgents. In response to heavy fire, a U.S. warplane dropped a bomb near the town. And an American helicopter came under fire and was forced to make an emergency landing. South of Baghdad, insurgents killed at least three policemen. It was not immediately clear if the police were killed in a raid or a mortar attack. At least 17 people were killed and more than 20 injured today in a suicide car-bomb attack in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, authorities said. Local police chief Shirku Shabir told AFP the bomb went off in front of the police academy in the southwest of the city. The deadly attack came as U.S. and Iraqi troops launched an offensive in northern Iraq against suspected militants, killing at least two insurgents. The U.S. military said in a statement that air strikes were called in amid heavy fighting and a bomb was dropped near Tall Afar, some 50 kilometers west of the northern city of Mosul. In Baghdad, the military said insurgents fired mortar bombs at a fortified compound where members of Iraq's interim national assembly were gathering today, reports Radio Free Europe.
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Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18