A car bomb attack outside a police station in western Iraq has killed at least seven policemen and wounded nine others.

Authorities say the policemen were lined up to get paid when the bomb exploded (in the Euphrates River town of Baghdadi, about 200 kilometers from the capital) .

In Baghdad, two U.S. soldiers were killed and three others wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.

Insurgents have killed scores of Iraqi police and government soldiers since the U.S. military assault on Fallujah ended earlier this month.

U.S. forces have found the bodies of more than 50 people in the northern city of Mosul in recent days. Most were Iraqi security personnel killed execution-style. A group linked to fugitive militant Abu Musab Zarqawi says it killed 17 Iraqi security personnel in the city in the past five days.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says there is "no reason" to delay Iraqi elections scheduled for January 30th.

Speaking to reporters in Washington (Monday), Mr. Powell called elections "the way forward" and the means by which Iraqis can take a stand against insurgents trying to undermine the interim government.

He said the United Nations has increased its presence in Iraq and that there are thousands of Iraqis working on voter registration.

Major Sunni Muslim and Kurdish parties have called for a six-month delay in the vote. But parties of Iraq's Shi'ite majority say the election should go ahead as planned.

Mr. Powell spoke after meeting with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa.