10 Iraqis, 1 American killed in latest attacks

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Car bombs killed 10 people Saturday in Baghdad and elsewhere in central Iraq, while gunmen opened fire on campaign workers putting up posters as December’s parliamentary elections approach.

Also Saturday, the U.S. military said it had received information that a top aide to the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in October in Ramadi. The death of Bilal Mahmud Awad Shebah was confirmed by a relative and “coalition sources,” the military said.

Six people were killed and 12 wounded when a suicide car bomber struck in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police Lt. Col. Mahmoud Mohammed said.

Four other people died when a car bomb exploded in western Baghdad as two armored cars passed by, according to police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud. Nobody in the convoy was injured, but one of the armored cars was damaged and removed by U.S. forces, Mahmoud said.

More than 270 people have been killed in car bombings and suicide attacks since Nov. 18.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military said an American soldier assigned to the 2nd Marine Division was killed Friday when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad.

The latest death raised the number of U.S. service members to die since the Iraq war started in March 2003 to at least 2,105, according to an Associated Press count.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned of an upsurge in insurgent attacks before the Dec. 15 elections, in which voters will choose the first fully constitutional parliament since Saddam Hussein’s rule collapsed in April 2003.

American authorities are hoping for a big Sunni Arab turnout, a move that could produce a government that would win the trust of the religious community that forms the backbone of the insurgency.

However, insurgents opposed to the election are expected to step up their campaign of intimidation as the vote approaches.

On Saturday, gunmen opened fire on four people as they plastered campaign posters for the biggest Shiite party on walls in western Baghdad, killing one person and wounding three, police said. In Mosul, gunmen fired on members of a Sunni Arab political movement while they were putting up campaign posters, wounding one person, police said.

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