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Insurgents' battles grip city of Baqouba

Fierce fighting Wednesday between coalition forces and insurgents shut down the Iraqi city of Baqouba, which has been roiled by violence in recent days, killing scores of militants and civilians. Dozens of bullet-riddled bodies were found around Baghdad.

Suspected insurgents attacked police headquarters in downtown Baqouba, sparking a clash with police that left five of the attackers dead, police said on condition of anonymity, as they regularly do to protect themselves.

Coalition forces backed by U.S. aircraft also killed eight al-Qaida in Iraq insurgents during a raid near the city that also left two Iraqi women dead, the U.S. military said. The morning attack was aimed at detaining Iraqis who were running a known cell of insurgents, the U.S. command said. The soldiers called in air support after coming under heavy fire from rifles and machine guns, the command said.

In Baqouba, capital of Diyala province about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, the university, public schools and many stores remained closed, and the city's streets were mostly empty, except for a few people who dashed out to stock up on food.

In all, 15 civilians and 13 insurgents were killed in violence in Iraq on Wednesday, police and U.S. officials said. The mangled bodies of nine civilians who had been kidnapped and tortured also were found, police said.

A total of 52 bullet-riddled bodies, some bearing signs of torture, were found in Baghdad, officials said.

The U.S. military announced the deaths of two U.S. soldiers.

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