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Iraq insurgents kill five in separate incidents

Insurgents killed four members of Iraq's security forces and a city engineer in separate incidents across the Iraqi capital Sunday evening, officials said.

The similar nature of the attacks -- all were shootings by assailants armed with sound-suppressed weapons -- and the fact that they all occurred within less than an hour of each other suggested a coordinated campaign to target security officials and government workers. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Iraqi police and hospital officials said gunmen killed an off-duty traffic policeman in a drive-by shooting in eastern Baghdad at about 8 p.m. and shot dead an Iraqi army colonel in his car downtown.

Assailants killed two more policemen in separate incidents later Sunday in Baghdad, as well as a city engineer northeast of the capital.

Gunmen also targeted a police colonel driving in northern Baghdad, but he escaped with severe wounds and was taken to the hospital.

Insurgents in Iraq frequently target the country's security forces and government employees for a variety of reasons, including retribution or to intimidate others from joining the security services.

Earlier Sunday, gunmen killed a lawyer in eastern Baghdad, police and hospital officials said. A police officer traveling with the lawyer was also wounded. The lawyer worked with a foundation that helped political prisoners who suffered under Saddam Hussein's regime.

December was the least deadly month of the least deadly year in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. According to Iraqi government data obtained by the AP, 151 people were killed in insurgent attacks in December, the lowest monthly toll of the year.

The casualty data is compiled by the interior, health and defense ministries and includes civilians as well as Iraqi security forces.

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