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WORLD: 6 Iraqis killed at checkpoints

6 Iraqis killed at checkpoints

BAGHDAD -- Gunmen killed six Iraqi security personnel Saturday, including a pair of sleeping policemen who were shot and set on fire, amid persistent debate over whether Iraqi forces can protect the country as U.S. troops leave.

The early-morning shootings at Baghdad checkpoints demonstrated the insurgents' aim to weaken confidence in the government and aggravate sectarian tension as all but 50,000 U.S. troops head home by the end of August.

In the first attack, gunmen armed with silenced pistols killed two policemen asleep in their patrol car at a security checkpoint in the Shiite-dominated New Baghdad neighborhood, said an officer with the federal police in Baghdad. The assailants then set the car on fire and fled, he said.

A half-hour later, a drive-by shooting on a checkpoint killed two more policemen in the Amil area.

Afghan, NATO troops pursue Haqqanis

KABUL, Afghanistan -- More than 20 insurgents including Arab, Chechen and Pakistani fighters have been killed by NATO and Afghan forces who are ramping up operations in the east against a Taliban faction linked to al-Qaida, the international coalition said Saturday.

Separately, three more NATO troops -- an American, a Briton and an Australian -- died in separate insurgent attacks in the volatile south, officials of the three countries said Saturday.

The joint force operation began Wednesday against dozens of insurgents holed up in a mountainous area of Zadran district of Paktia province. The operation focused on disrupting the Haqqani network's movement in an area used to stage attacks in the capital, Kabul, and along a highway that links Khost province and Gardez, the provincial capital of Paktia, NATO said.

Officials allege US missiles kill 12 in Pakistan

MIR ALI, Pakistan -- Suspected U.S. missiles killed 12 people Saturday in a Pakistani tribal region filled with Islamist insurgents bent on pushing Western troops out of neighboring Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

Elsewhere in the country, gunmen targeted non-ethnic Baluchis traveling on a bus and painting a house in two attacks in southwestern Baluchistan province Saturday, killing 16 people and wounding eight.

The airstrike was the first such attack since intense floods hit Pakistan in late July.