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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pre-Election Violence Escalates

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Eleven Iraqis and one U.S. Marine were killed Thursday as insurgents clashed with U.S. troops and blew up a school slated to serve as a polling center -- pre-election violence that followed the deadliest day for U.S. troops since the war's start. Another U.S. soldier died in an accident.

The Marine was killed and five others injured when insurgents launched mortars at their base near Iskandariyah, about 50 kilometers south of Baghdad.

Australian officials announced that one of two car bombings on Baghdad's dangerous airport road Wednesday had injured eight Australian soldiers riding in a convoy escorting Australian government officials.

Also on Wednesday, 30 U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor died in a helicopter crash in bad weather in the western desert, and six U.S. troops were killed in insurgent ambushes. That made Wednesday the deadliest single day for Americans since the Iraq war began nearly two years ago.

In a continuation of the pre-election violence plaguing the country, three Iraqi civilians were killed Thursday in a house in Samarra, 97 kilometers north of Baghdad, when a car bomb exploded nearby, said Alaadin Mohammed, a doctor at the local hospital.

Another three Iraqis were killed and seven injured when a roadside bomb missed a U.S. convoy in Mahmoudiya, 32 kilometers south of Baghdad, according to the area's hospital director, Dawoud al-Taie.

Also, an Iraqi army soldier was killed and five civilians and two Iraqi police officers were wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded near the Iraqi soldier's patrol in Baqubah, said Sergeant Brian Thomas of the U.S. military.

Near Tikrit, a roadside bomb killed one Iraqi bystander and narrowly missed another passing U.S. military convoy, police said. The attack happened on a road near former dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown, about 130 kilometers north of Baghdad, said police Lieutenant Shalan Allawi.

Also in Samarra, armed men blew up a local school administration building on Thursday morning after first ordering the staff to leave, said police Lieutenant Qassim Mohammed. The destroyed building had been scheduled to be a voting center in Sunday's elections.

Sporadic clashes also erupted in Samarra between U.S. troops and armed men, killing one Iraqi civilian and injuring another, Mohammed said.

And in Ramadi, capital of the insurgent-plagued province of Anbar, west of Baghdad, another Iraqi National Guard soldier was killed when insurgents attacked a joint U.S.-Iraqi force guarding a voting center at a school, said police Lieutenant Safa al-Obeidi.

In Baqubah, the body of a colonel in the former Iraqi intelligence during Hussein's era, Talib Minshid, was found in the city, according to a Baqubah hospital official, Mohammed Ali. Minshid had been abducted by armed men two days ago.

A U.S. soldier also died from a gunshot wound early Thursday on a base near Tikrit in what the American military command called an accident.

Just days before Sunday's crucial election, four Iraqi National Guard soldiers and one officer also were kidnapped Wednesday afternoon in Baghdadi, 145 kilometers west of Baghdad.

The kidnapping occurred after the Iraqi soldiers' car was stopped by insurgents at a checkpoint, according to witnesses at the scene.

On Wednesday, rebels launched a string of car bombs and attacks on polling centers across the country that killed at least 13 people.