A suicide bomber has killed at least 16 people and wounded another 50 at a military base in Iraq's western Anbar province, according to army and police sources.
AFP - A suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives killed at least 16 people and wounded 50 others on Thursday at a military base in Iraq's western Anbar province, the army and police said.
An eyewitness said the bomber was wearing a military uniform when he detonated himself among soldiers on parade at the base, while army and police sources said the explosion took place at the base's cafeteria.
All the casualties were soldiers, the army and police said.
Anbar had once been overrun with al Qaeda and other Sunni Islamist insurgents, but became one of Iraq's quietest provinces after Sunni tribal sheikhs turned on militants in their midst in late 2006.
The sheikhs formed a political party which last week confirmed its domination of Anbar's bitterly contested local council after January polls, in which the party did well on a platform of security after routing al Qaeda from the province.
The blast is the new council's first serious attack since it came to office.
The sheiks' decision to turn on al Qaeda was copied elsewhere in Iraq, and U.S.-backed Sunni militias were formed to battle insurgents. Shi'ite-led government forces clashed with a Sunni militia in Baghdad late last month after they arrested a militia leader, raising tensions.
Thursday's bombing was one of a string of high-profile attacks in Iraq in recent weeks, as provinces finalise new alliances and choose new governors after January's vote.
The new political landscape is likely to set the scene for a national election scheduled for December, leading some analysts and Iraqis to point to political motives for the attacks.
Others say insurgents are trying to exploit tensions between the government and the Sunni militias, of whom many were former insurgents and could return to al Qaeda's ranks if they feel threatened by the state.
On Wednesday an attack targeting a bus carrying police assigned to guard northern Iraq's oil industry killed 10 people in the city of Kirkuk. The explosion could have been caused by a parked car bomb or a car driven by suicide bomber, police said.
Date created : 2009-04-16