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US and UN back Iraq vote as protests continue
Suicide bomber kills four policemen in Baghdad


BAGHDAD, Dec 29: A suicide bomber blew himself up next to a police patrol car Thursday, killing four policemen and wounding five, an interior ministry official said, report agencies.
The attack took place near an interior ministry entrance.
The Al-Kindi hospital said five wounded policemen, including an officer, were taken there for treatment.
Meanwhile: The United Nations and the United States rebuffed calls by Sunnis and secular Shiites to re-run Iraq's parliamentary elections as protests against the vote continued Thursday.
And a previously unknown group claimed the kidnapping of French engineer Bernard Planche, threatening Wednesday to kill him if France did not "end its illegitimate presence in Iraq" in a video shown on Al-Arabiya television.
A spokesman for the White House followed up the UN's unequivocal backing for the December 15 election with his own statement of support, with both institutions promoting the formation of a coalition government
In a demonstration in the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, hundreds of Sunni Arabs and Turkmen protested election results that gave a dominant position to the Kurdish Alliance in this flashpoint city.
The past two days have seen thousands demonstrate in Baghdad as well as predominantly Sunni Arab cities such as Samarra and Tikrit, calling for a re-run of the election or the formation of a national unity government.
In a letter to the Iraqi people following a visit earlier this month, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld assumed the Iraqis would do exactly that.
The Sunni Arab's chief ally in opposing the election has been the National Iraqi List of former prime minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite whose mixed coalition did poorly in the elections.
Allawi is calling for rerunning elections in certain governorates or just canceling the results of a vote he maintains was premature.
While the electoral commission has stood by the results of the election in general, they admit there were a number of irregularities and in some cases are planning to toss out results believed to be fraudulent.