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Attacks in Iraq kill 4, including 2 policemen

Attacks in Iraq kill 4, including 2 policemen

Police captured four gunmen after a shootout in Saddam Hussein's hometown Friday following a drive-by attack on a security checkpoint that killed two guards, officials said.
Also Friday, a roadside bomb killed two people in Baghdad.
The gunbattle took place in Tikrit, some 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of the capital, where armed men in a speeding car opened fire on a checkpoint. The assailants fled into a fruit orchard, and were captured after a shootout with police.
In Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a bus, killing two people and wounding seven, police and hospital officials said. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Violence in Iraq has decreased dramatically over the last two years, but attacks across the country continue on an almost daily basis.
Meanwhile, U.N. envoy Ad Melkert called on Iraq's government to abolish the death penalty. His appeal, made on the 62nd anniversary of a U.N. treaty calling for worldwide human rights, came a week after Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani demanded the swift execution of 39 suspected insurgents who have not yet been tried or convicted of plotting to bomb targets in Baghdad.
Human-rights group Amnesty International condemned al-Bolani's remarks as "a complete mockery" of Iraq's legal system.
Melkert's appeal also comes as several European governments and the Vatican have requested mercy for Tariq Aziz, the only Christian in Saddam Hussein's inner circle. Aziz was sentenced to death in October for persecuting Shiite political parties.
Worldwide sympathy for Iraq's dwindling Christian community has increased since an Oct. 31 attack on a Baghdad church, where five suicide bombers held the congregation hostage, eventually killing 68 people.
On Friday, Iraqi and foreign dignitaries joined hundreds of Christians for Mass at the Catholic church to mark the end of the 40-day mourning period following the siege.