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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Powell: Iraq Fighting Getting Worse

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A car bomb killed three Iraqi National Guardsmen and wounded five others in the northern city of Mosul on Monday, underscoring a warning by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that Iraq's insurgency was worsening.

In fresh attacks against Iraq's beleaguered security forces aimed at destabilizing the U.S.-backed government, insurgents detonated the bomb near a National Guard patrol in Mosul, 390 kilometers north of Baghdad. Three civilians were also wounded.

Earlier Monday, insurgents fired five mortar bombs near a police academy in eastern Baghdad, but there were no reports of any casualties or damage, the Interior Ministry said.

The attacks came a day after Powell's warning, which linked the growing militancy to elections scheduled in Iraq for January.

"We are fighting an intense insurgency," he said on ABC television's "This Week" program. "Yes, it's getting worse, and the reason it's getting worse is that they are determined to disrupt the election.

"And because it's getting worse we will have to increase our efforts to defeat it, not walk away and pray and hope for something else to happen," Powell said.

Also on Monday, U.S. planes fired at rebel positions in the eastern Baghdad Shiite slum of Sadr City, residents and doctors said. The U.S. military said it had no word on those attacks.

A doctor at one Sadr City hospital said an overnight airstrike had killed one woman and two men.

Sadr City, a rebel stronghold, has been the scene of almost daily clashes between U.S. forces and insurgents.

Worsening security in Iraq has raised concerns about whether the elections can go ahead. Senior Washington officials have clashed over whether the vote should cover the whole country or be held only where security can be guaranteed.

In an interview with the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said elections should take place in January even if "a few thousand people" cannot vote.

"We support holding the elections without delay and if a few thousand people in some corner somewhere in Iraq can't take part, then that does not mean their opinion should matter more than 27 million people," Allawi said.

"Even if we assume the situation will remain the same for the next four months, it is illogical to deprive the entire Iraqi population because an area or two doesn't want elections," he said in the interview, published Monday.

The United States has conceded it does not control some cities in Iraq, including the Sunni Muslim hotbeds of Fallujah and Ramadi, which are firmly in the hands of rebels.

U.S. aircraft have launched repeated airstrikes against Fallujah aimed at killing militants loyal to guerrilla chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Washington's No. 1 enemy in Iraq who is blamed for a string of car bombs and kidnappings of foreigners.

Zarqawi's group, Tawhid and Jihad, seized two Americans and a Briton from their home in Baghdad 11 days ago and threatened to kill them unless female prisoners were released from Iraqi jails.

No women were freed and the two Americans, Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley, were killed. Briton Kenneth Bigley is also threatened with death, although no deadline has been set.

A London-based Islamist activist who has good contacts with Islamist groups in Iraq said Sunday that Bigley was still alive.

A two-man delegation of British Muslims is in Baghdad pushing for his release, and Bigley's brother appealed again for the British authorities to do more.