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Gunmen Kill Two Baghdad Police Chiefs

Gunmen killed two district police chiefs and two other Iraqis in attacks in Baghdad on Thursday, the latest in a steady wave of insurgent strikes against the nation's security forces.

Assailants in two cars opened fire on a pickup truck carrying Col. Ahmed Abeis (search), the head of Salihiyah police in western Baghdad, killing him, his driver and a guard, police Col. Khazim Abbas said.

The white truck could be seen on the side of a road in Baghdad's Saidiyah neighborhood, its windows shattered and bullet-ridden. Weeping, a brother of Abeis picked up an empty shoe from the back of the blood-smeared vehicle.

In an Internet statement, a group claiming to be Al Qaeda in Iraq (search) took responsibility for an attack in the same area on "an intelligence officer who used to investigate the Mujahedeen and hurt them." The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.

In a separate attack, gunmen also killed the chief of Jisr Diyala in southeast Baghdad, Col. Ayad Abdul-Razaq (search), a police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi police and army troops are frequently targeted by insurgents who see them as collaborators with U.S. forces.

In the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, gunmen killed an accountant working for KurdSat TV, Brig. Saraht Qadir said. The television station belongs to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (search), one of two main Kurdish parties.

The shootings came after authorities announced Wednesday they'd found 41 bodies at two sites in Iraq. Officials said some of the badly decomposed corpses are Iraqi soldiers who were kidnapped and slain by insurgents. Others were civilians, including women and children who may have been killed because their families were seen as collaborators.

Also Wednesday, a homicide bomber in a garbage truck loaded with explosives and at least one gunman shot their way into a parking lot in a daring attempt at dawn to blow up a hotel used by Western contractors in Baghdad. At least four people, including the attackers and a guard, were killed.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that 30 American contractors were among 40 people injured in the massive blast. No Americans were killed. In an Internet statement, Al Qaeda in Iraq purportedly claimed responsibility for the attack on the Sadeer hotel, calling it the "hotel of the Jews."

Iraq's interim planning minister, Mahdi al-Hafidh (search), escaped death on Wednesday after gunmen opened fire on his convoy in the capital. Two of his bodyguards were killed and two others were wounded, he said.

"I'm fine, just sorry about the death of the guards, who were still young," he told state-run Al-Iraqiya TV. "It is a part of the crisis that Iraq is living, but we will keep going for the sake of Iraq, to get rid of terrorism and build a democratic country."

Two other car bombings were also reported. One targeted an American checkpoint outside a base in Habaniyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad. Another car bomb exploded near U.S. troops close to Abu Ghraib, just west of the capital.

No other details were available and the U.S. military could not be reached for comment.

Elsewhere, guerrillas struck a police patrol with a roadside bomb in the southern city of Basra, killing two policeman and wounding three, Lt. Col. Karim Al-Zaydi said.

In northern Kirkuk, a woman identified as Nawal Mohammed, who worked with U.S. forces, was killed in a drive-by shooting, police Gen. Turhan Youssef said.

Another three unidentified men were gunned down in central Baghdad and another was killed when gunmen opened fire on a bus, police and defense ministry officials said.

In northern Mosul, two police officers were killed and two others were injured in clashes with insurgents, officials said.

In the attack against the Sadeer hotel, Al Qaeda in Iraq's "military wing" posted another Internet statement attributed to its leader, Jordanian-born terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

It said it carried out extensive surveillance of the hotel and "we have fulfilled our vow to take down the Jews and Christians." In an alleged response on the same site, someone purporting to be al-Zarqawi replied that "you have relieved us by killing the enemy of God. God bless you."