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Killing of Iraq police chief highlights security struggles as US draws down

The suicide attack that murdered an Iraq police chief today is a sign that political violence remains. But such attacks are unlikely to change US plans to leave by the end of 2011.

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A senior police commander and three other cops in Iraq's northern city of Mosul – the most violent of Iraq's major cities – were murdered by suicide bombers shortly after dawn today.

The New York Times reports that the victim was Lt. Col. Shamel Ahmed al-JabouriI, the head of a police commando unit that had recently killed a senior Al Qaeda in Iraq commander.

The killings are a reminder that Iraq remains a very dangerous place, particularly for local policemen and soldiers, even as the US continues to draw down its forces and appears on course for a near-total military pullout by 2011.

On Monday, 19 people were murdered in a two-punch suicide attack in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. The first bomb killed family members collecting promised pensions for policemen who were killed in early December. The second attack happened as ambulances and emergency workers arrived on the scene.

Both Mosul and Anbar province remain particularly tense.

Mosul, an ethnically and religiously mixed city, near semi-autonomous Kurdistan and with a large Shiite minority to go with its mostly Sunni Arab population, has long been a cauldron of conflict.

In largely Sunni Anbar, where Islamist militants and nationalist Sunnis put up stiff resistance to the US presence in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, tensions have been on the rise.

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