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Iraq suicide bomber kills 30, wounds 57

US to cut Iraq troops by 12,000 in next 6 months

A suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up killing at least 30 people and wounding 57 more at a police academy in the Iraqi capital on Sunday, as the Washingron announced that it will reduce the number of troops in Iraq by around 12,000 in the next six months.

“A suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a crowd outside the (police) academy on Palestine Street," a police official told AFP.

The bomber activated his vest as he sped into the crowd, a police official said. The academy in Baghdad has come under repeated attacks. Fifteen people died and more than 45 were wounded in two blasts on Dec. 1 as al-Qaeda and other insurgents continued to target security forces around the country.

On Thursday, a truck bomb killed 10 people and wounded more than 50 at a crowded livestock market near Hilla, a mainly Shiite provincial capital south of Baghdad.

Reducing U.S. troops

In the meantime, the U.S. military said on Sunday that it will reduce the number of troops in Iraq by around 12,000 in the next six months, a step in President Barack Obama's plan to end combat operations in August, 2010.

"Two brigade combat teams who were scheduled to redeploy in the next six months, along with enabling forces such as logistics, engineers and intelligence, will not be replaced," the U.S. military said in a statement.

Reducing the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq from 14 to 12 would cut the number of American troops, currently around 140,000, by 12,000, military officials said.

Six years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, Obama plans to pull all combat troops out of Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, leaving 35,000 to 50,000 support and training troops as Washington shifts its military focus to Afghanistan.

Last month, Obama ordered 17,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to tackle a growing insurgency there.

Under a U.S.-Iraqi security pact negotiated by former President George W. Bush that took effect on Jan. 1, the United States must withdraw all its troops from Iraq by end-2011.

The sectarian and insurgent violence that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,500 foreign troops since 2003 has fallen off sharply.

But Iraq remains a dangerous place and insurgents continue to stage regular attacks in places such as the northern city of Mosul.

Two brigade combat teams who were scheduled to redeploy in the next six months ... will not be replaced

U.S. military statement