HILLAH, Iraq (AP) — Suicide bombers detonated explosives
outside a Polish-run base yesterday, killing 10 Iraqis and wounding
more than 100 people, more than half of them coalition soldiers.
The United States arrested seven guerrillas believed linked to
al-Qaida in an early-morning raid to the north.

The attack in Hillah, the third suicide bombing of security
targets in two weeks, was part of a wider effort “to isolate
us from the Iraqi people,” coalition military commander Lt.
Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters in Tikrit.

Coalition and military officials said at least 106 people were
hurt in the blasts, which happened in the Hayy Babil neighborhood
near Camp Charlie. The wounded included 32 Iraqis and 26 Poles, as
well as Hungarians, Bulgarians, Filipinos and an American.

The casualty toll could have been much higher had guards not
opened fire and prevented the bombers from entering the camp. One
truck exploded under the gunfire and another blew up after hitting
a concrete barrier.

The 7:15 a.m. blasts — from 1,540 pounds of explosives
— flattened 11 homes nearby and blew down the entire sides of
several other houses in this town south of Baghdad.

Earlier yesterday, U.S. troops arrested seven militants believed
linked to al-Qaida in the turbulent city of Baqouba, north of the
capital, the military said. It gave no details on the nationalities
of the militants. There was no indication the attacks and the U.S.
raid were directly linked.

Troops from the 4th Infantry Division carried out the raid early
yesterday targeting an “anti-coalition cell” that may
have ties to Osama bin Laden’s terror group, a statement from
the U.S. command said.

Suicide attacks have killed 300 people, mostly Iraqis, since the
beginning of the year. They have fueled speculation that Islamic
extremists, possibly linked to al-Qaida, were playing a greater
role in the anti-coalition insurgency. U.S. military officials had
believed the attacks were spearheaded by Saddam Hussein
loyalists.

The stepped-up violence could be aimed at preventing U.S.
administrators from handing over power to the Iraqis on June 30,
when Iraqi security forces would also take a more prominent role
against the insurgency.

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