FEBRUARY 19 2012 16:29h

Suicide bomber kills 18 police in Baghdad

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BAGHDAD, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Eighteen people were killed and 29 others were injured Sunday by a suicide bombing attack on a Baghdad police station, police said.

The Aswat al-Iraq newspaper said a man wearing a bomb-laden belt detonated explosives outside a police academy in the eastern part of the capital.

The academy is within the heavily guarded Interior Ministry facilities in Baghdad, the paper said.

There were conflicting reports, one of which said the blast came from a car bomb, CNN said.

Sectarian violence in Iraq between minority Sunni Muslims and majority Shiites is on the rise since its peak in 2005 when U.S. forces claimed control of the country's security and then withdrew at the end of last year.

The al-Qaida terrorist movement is composed mostly of Sunni extremists, who backed former dictator Saddam Hussein. He was killed in December 2006 by U.S. Navy Seals.