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Dozens killed in Iraq as U.S. hunts for missing troops

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Violence raged in Iraq on Sunday, with more than 60 people killed and dozens wounded in two separate bombings, police said.


The first explosion took place in the northern town of Makhmur when a truck bomb exploded near government buildings and the local office of a leading Kurdish party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).


At least 50 people died in the attack, a security official said.


A lot of bodies were buried under rubble and the death toll is expected to rise, he added.


Security sources said the KDP, which is led by president of the Kurdish autonomous region, Massoud Barzani, was holding a local meeting when the bomb exploded.


Last week, a truck bomb in the city of Irbil near the Kurdish interior ministry killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens.


Daily bombings and instability that have plagued much of Iraq remain rare in the country's north.


But political tensions escalated in the predominantly Kurdish region over the drafting of a bill that would redistribute oil wealth among the country's Kurdish, Sunni and Shia population.


Most of Iraq's oil is concentrated around the Kurdish north and Shia south.


Also Sunday, a car bomb exploded near a market in the Sadriyah district of central Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and wounding 45 others.


Last month, a car explosion in the same killed 140 people, the deadliest attack since the U.S. launched a security crackdown in Baghdad four months ago.


U.S. army still searching for missing troops

The U.S. army launched a massive search operation involving more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers to find three soldiers who went missing after an attack in southern Baghdad that killed five members of a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol on Saturday.


The U.S. army said an Iraqi interpreter was killed along with four American soldiers during the pre-dawn ambush, confirming that the three missing soldiers are all Americans.


"Everybody is fully engaged, the commanders are intimately focused on this, every asset we have from national assets to tactical assets ... are being used all the way down to the 4,000 troops ... to locate these three missing soldiers," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq said.


Earlier Sunday, a group allegedly linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq said in an Internet statement that it’s responsible for yesterday’s attack and that it’s holding the missing troops.


The unknown group didn’t provide evidence to back up its claim.


-- AJP and Agencies


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