At least two other policemen were seriously wounded and 19 others lightly injured, said medical sources. No occupation troops were killed.

Witnesses said a huge blast tore through the Rasafa police station shortly after 11:00 (07:00 GMT) on Tuesday, starting a large fire and sending clouds of black smoke spiralling into the sky.

The person who carried out the attack may have been wearing an Iraqi police uniform, reported our correspondent at the scene.

Security was heightened at explosion site, preventing cameramen from getting close to the scene.

The attack occurred in a parking lot for stolen vehicles right next to the capital's top police academy and across the street from the police headquarters and the Ministry of Interior.

The explosion damaged the office of the US-appointed
Baghdad police chief, Hassan Ali, who was not in the complex at the time of the attack.
 
Police Brigadier Said Munaim said Ali was probably the
target of the blast.

Car bomb

Car bombs on the rise in Iraq

"It was a car bomb. Praise be to Allah, no one has died. There are only wounded," said Najim Mona, forensics chief at the station.

Major Salim Abd al-Zahra said the car was in the station's
garage. 

Our correspondent, Jawad al-Umari, said most of the injured were Iraqi policemen, as civilians were banned from entering this site.

Around 10 cars were completely burned, and others were partially damaged.

The area around the police station has been cordoned off, and journalists have been prevented from obtaining further details.

Lieutenant Khaled told reporters the station's chief, General Amer, had had a grenade lobbed at his house on Monday night.  

 

US toll rises

Meanwhile, two US occupation police officers were also killed and one wounded in a bomb attack in the Iraqi capital on Monday. 

"Their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device on a main supply route south of Baghdad," a spokeswoman reported 24 hours after the incident.

Another US soldier was killed and a second injured in a helicopter crash described as a "non-hostile" incident outside Baghdad on Tuesday, said military officials.

  
The US administration now claims 67 of its troops have been killed in resistance attacks in Iraq since President George Bush declared major operations over on 1 May.
  
A further 81 have died in accidents or other circumstances unrelated to combat, some supposedly dying in their sleep, drowning or falling off buildings.

Another ambush wounded two US soldiers early on Tuesday when their vehicle hit a mine in Fallujah, 60km west of Baghdad, a local resident told journalists.
  
"An explosive device went off under a jeep as a US military convoy comprising around 15 trucks and jeeps was crossing the Fallujah bridge, heading for the al-Habbaniya base, causing it to overturn," said Qusay Adnan.
  
Two soldiers were wounded in the vehicle that overturned, he said, adding that the incident occurred at around 08:30 am (0430 GMT).

Toll table

US, British and other occupation forces killed
Combat             Invasion    Post-invasion
United States       183              67
Britain                   19              11
Multinational
           
Non-combat 
United States         101            81
Britain                    30              5
Multinational             0              1
Iraqis killed: 
Military                       2,320# 
Civilians          Between 6,118 and 7,836*

     
 #  US military estimates relating only to fighting in or
near Baghdad. No other figures available.