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BAGHDAD – Three al-Qaida suicide bombers attacked a police building in Mosul on Wednesday, leveling the building and killing the city's top commander, who had escaped at least five previous assassination attempts, officials said.
The officer, Lt. Col. Shamil al-Jabouri, had relentlessly pursued al-Qaida in the tense northern city that was a former stronghold of the militants and the group claimed responsibility for killing him while he slept on a couch. Rescuers worked frantically to clear the rubble of the collapsed building but found no others dead, probably because the attack was earl
Al-Qaida's affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, took responsibility in a statement posted on the Internet. It said al-Jabouri had been targeted several times before, but had not been deterred from fighting al-Qaida.
"This day was the decisive one," the group said.
Militants had tried to kill al-Jabouri at least five times before, police officials said. A few months ago, al-Jabouri's guards shot a suicide bomber who approached the commander in an attempt to blow himself up, police said.
Hospital officials in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, confirmed the death and said at least one policeman was injured.
Al-Qaida-linked militants across the country, and especially in Mosul, have made wiping out Iraqi security officials like al-Jabouri one of their main goals, in part to intimidate others from joining the security forces. Suicide bombers have been al-Qaida's most lethal weapon, killing hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces.