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7 Iraqi police recruits killed at graduation

Seven Iraqi police recruits died Saturday as explosives packed into a utility pole near a police station went off during the graduation ceremony for the first American-trained class for a new police force.

More than 70 people were injured as shrapnel from the metal pole and the bomb ripped through a large crowd around noon, said a hospital director where most of the injuries were treated.

"We were marching in a file as part of our training when a roadside bomb exploded," said Ahmad Hammad, a wounded recruit. "There were seven dead and 74 wounded." Hospital and police authorities confirmed the death and injury toll. No U.S. officials were injured in the explosion.

In Baghdad, the top American administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, said despite the increasing wave of violence directed at coalition forces in Iraq, "We will not let the Iraqi people down" by leaving. He vowed that those who orchestrated the attacks "will lose."

The cadets, who police Lt. Yassir Abdul Hamid said ranged in age from 17 to 28, had gone through a three-day training course with senior Iraqi police officers and members of a National Guard unit who are police officers in the United States.

The classes were in a secondary school near the central police station. Saturday, the first 250 cadets graduated.

Also . . .

JOURNALIST KILLED: An unidentified freelance British journalist was shot and killed outside the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad on Saturday, witnesses said. The death brings to 16 the number of journalists killed in Iraq since the start of the war.