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10 Baghdad Bakery Workers Abducted; 7 Die in Scattered Iraq Violence

Gunmen seized 10 workers from a bakery Sunday in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, while a car bomb exploded near a university in the northern city of Mosul, killing one woman and wounding 19 other people, police said.

A small parked truck bomb exploded in southwestern Baghdad, killing three people inside the vehicle, police said. In Baqouba, north of Baghdad, gunmen killed three people and police reported that one had an Iranian passport.

The scattered attacks came after a day of unrelenting violence that killed more than two dozen people as insurgents foiled heightened security measures, dealing a blow to the Iraqi government's pledge to bring peace to the capital.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, combed through the "Triangle of Death," a predominantly Sunni Arab region south of the capital for a second day looking for two soldiers missing since an attack Friday on a traffic checkpoint that also killed one of their comrades.

Countrywatch: Iraq

Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops also set up outposts Sunday west of Baghdad as part of an operation to establish Iraqi army bases in the volatile Sunni Arab city of Ramadi.

U.S. commanders stressed that the operation was not a large-scale assault on the city, despite reports by Arab television networks and some Western outlets of an impending attack on the city similar to the 2004 operation to rid Fallujah of insurgents.

They said it was an "isolation" tactic to prevent insurgents from receiving supplies or reinforcements from outside.

Two long columns of U.S. and Iraqi armored vehicles met little resistance late Saturday as they encircled the southern side Ramadi, the capital of volatile Anbar province, although a handful of roadside bombs were discovered and detonated.

Insurgents also fired two mortar shells that landed about 500 meters (yards) away from where the troops were establishing the outposts on Sunday and the U.S. Army fired back, but no injuries were reported.

Gunmen arrived in two cars, broke into the bakery in the northern suburb of Kazimiyah and abducted the 10 workers, police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun said. A mortar shell struck a well-known market in the same neighborhood on Saturday, killing four people and wounding 13.

A mortar shell also hit the al-Sadiq University for Islamic Studies on Palestine Street, one of the capital's main thoroughfares, wounding five students and a teacher, police Lt. Ahmed Qasim said.

The car bomb was apparently targeting a U.S. convoy when it exploded near Mosul University and most of the 19 wounded were female students, police Brig. Abdel-Hamid Khala said.

Police also found the bullet-riddled bodies of 10 men who showed signs of torture in several areas of Baghdad, and the body of a man who was shot in the head was found in Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital.

Witnesses who said they saw Friday's attack against the American troops in the volatile area south of Baghdad claimed the soldiers were led away by masked gunmen, but the reports could not be confirmed and the U.S. military had no comment on them.

Ahmed Khalaf Falah, a farmer, said three Humvees were manning a checkpoint when they came under fire from many directions. Two of the vehicles went after the assailants, but the third was ambushed before it could move, he told The Associated Press.

Seven masked gunmen, including one with what he described as a heavy machine gun, killed the driver of the third vehicle, then took the two other U.S. soldiers captive, the witness said. The account could not be verified.

The New York Times also reported in its Sunday editions that Iraqi residents in the area said they saw two U.S. soldiers taken prisoner by a group of masked guerrillas. It said the two surviving soldiers were led to two cars and driven away.

The U.S. military said Sunday it was continuing the search but had no new information to provide.

The farmer also said tensions were high in the area as U.S. soldiers raided some houses and arrested men. He also said the Americans were setting up checkpoints on all roads leading to the area of the attack and helicopters were hovering at low altitudes.

Falah did not give more details and no new raids were announced by the military early Sunday.

The spree of bombings and mortar attacks in the Baghdad area — with eight attacks on Saturday that killed at least 27 people and wounded 27 — was an embarrassment for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who ordered more police and army checkpoints for the city last week to restore security for its 6 million residents.