Some 15 civilians were killed and 17 wounded on Monday when a car bomb exploded outside the main police headquarters in the town of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad.

   

Police said the driver of the car tried to ram the police station but was blocked by a concrete barrier and detonated his explosives some distance from it.

 

Husain al-Mujamai, an Iraqi journalist, told Aljazeera that the targeted building was under tight security.

 

"However, the driver of the booby-trapped car managed to reach the volunteers near one of the building's gates," he said.

 

Volunteers targeted

 

All the casualties were probably volunteers as civilians have no access to that area, according to al-Mujamai.

 

The Baquba bombing alone has
claimed the lives of 15 Iraqis

"We have heard that a large number of policemen have quit their jobs during the last few months fearing for their lives," he said.

 

However, unemployment and the difficult living situation is forcing people to join the police as there are no other jobs, al-Mujamai added.

   

As for the second attack, it occurred in the northern city of Mosul. Twelve people were killed and six wounded when a bomber targeted a crowd of police officers in a hospital compound.

   

A large crater was blown into the road and at least five cars were destroyed. Most, if not all, of the victims were thought to be police officers.

 

Tricked to death

 

Jasim Hasan, an Iraqi journalist, told Aljazeera in Mosul that  Hasan Tahsin al-Ubaidi, director of Mosul's al-Jumhuriya hospital, issued a statement on Monday saying that a man arrived at the hospital and asked all policemen to gather in order to chalk out a plan to capture him.

The Mosul bombing was planned
to maximise police fatalities

 

He then blew himself up among the men as they gathered, killing 12 of them and injuring six others. 

 

"The bomber's identity is unknown yet," Hasan said. 

 

Iraqi police sources said a mortar shell was fired at a group of  policemen at the hospital. 

 

But according to Hasan, most reports said a bomber blew himself up among the policemen. 

 

He quoted Al-Ubaidi, the hospital director, as saying that there were no casualties among civilians and patients as the explosion took place in the backyard of the hospital, where only policemen were present.

   

More attacks

 

In another incident, Ninawa police directorate in central Mosul city came under mortar attack on Monday morning, police sources told Hasan. 

The family of one Egyptian heard
the news of release on television

 

Around 13 mortar shells landed in the outside yard of the police directorate, killing three civilians, the sources added.

 

For its part, the Islamist group Army of Ansar al-Sunna said it shot dead an Iraqi translator working for US forces and posted a video of the killing on the Internet.

 

The video showed the captive appealing to other translators not to deal with US forces before he was blindfolded and shot in the head.

 

Separately, the US military said its troops killed one fighter and wounded another, possibly fatally, on Sunday in response to two attacks on US troops in Baghdad's Sadr City. 

   

On the same day, a US soldier was killed and two were wounded by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad.

 

Egyptians released

 

Against this backdrop of violence, four Egyptian telecom engineers seized on Sunday in Baghdad were released on Monday, Egyptian embassy sources and a spokesman for their company told AFP.

  

"They were released this afternoon at around 6:30pm (1530 GMT). They are in good health and no ransom was paid. They should be leaving the country tomorrow early in the morning," Orascom spokesman Shamil Hanafi said.

  

The four were kidnapped outside their Baghdad home on Sunday morning. They worked for Servco, a subsidiary of Egyptian telecom giant Orascom.

  

An official at the Egyptian embassy in Baghdad confirmed the release.

    

Orascom clinched the contract to operate the mobile phone network in the Baghdad area through another subsidiary, Iraqna.