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Middle east

Iraqi police killed in deadly suicide attack

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-06-21

Two car bombs outside the local governor's home in the central Iraqi city of Diwaniyah killed at least 21 policemen on Tuesday, according to officials. The governor, who was the presumed target of the attack, escaped unharmed.

AFP - Two car bombs ripped through a guard post outside the local governor's home in the central Iraqi city of Diwaniyah on Tuesday, killing at least 21 policemen, officials and a medic said.

A police colonel said the governor of Diwaniyah province, Salam Hussein Alwan, had been the target of the attack but was late in leaving home and thus escaped unharmed, as did his family.

The colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the bombs exploded at 7:45 am (0445 GMT) at a police barrier about 30 metres (100 feet) from the governor's home, seriously damaging blast walls protecting the compound.

"The plan was for the bombs to explode as the governor left for work in his convoy of vehicles," he said.

A medical source at the main hospital in Diwaniyah, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad, said 21 dead bodies had been received, all of them policemen, and many of them burnt. Thirty-five wounded people had been brought to the hospital.

"All of the dead are policemen," the medic told AFP. "Among the wounded are 30 policemen and five civilians -- two children, two men and a woman -- people whose homes were nearby," he added.

A defence ministry official said the two car bombs exploded almost simultaneously. He put the toll at 25 dead and more than 30 wounded.

Casualty figures often differ in the immediate aftermath of an attack in Iraq, due to the ensuing chaos and confusion.

Abdullah Abdul Hussein, a 45-year-old labourer said he was also on his way to work when the explosions occurred.

"First one car exploded, and then another. There were bodies everywhere, and cars burning," he told AFP.

"One car was thrown by the force of the blast, and I saw many bodies, some of them so burnt that you could not tell if it was a man or woman," he added.

Alwan is a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law alliance.

Attacks against government officials have shot up in recent months, as Iraqi leaders bicker over key security posts left vacant since a March 2010 general election.

The car bombs were part of a string of blasts on Tuesday in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq that killed at least another four people and wounded 16, including two policemen and three soldiers, interior and defence ministry officials said.

Tuesday's violence followed a spate of gun and bomb attacks on Monday, including a blast next to a French embassy car that wounded seven Iraqis. Four French security personnel inside the armoured vehicle escaped unhurt.

Monday's attacks killed an army officer and a policeman who were gunned down in different districts of Baghdad, and the mayor of the town of Al-Shar in central Baquba province, shot dead as gunmen raided his home.

Violence is down in Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, when tens of thousands of people were killed in clashes between Sunni and Shiite Arabs and in insurgent attacks, but attacks have risen since the beginning of this year.

The rise in violence comes with only months to go before US troops, in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, are due to complete a pullout under the terms of a bilateral security pact.

Eight US soldiers have been killed on duty this month.

An Al-Qaeda-style raid by gunmen against government offices in the central city of Baquba on June 14 killed seven people.

Private security firm AKE Group said this month that attacks have been on the rise since the start of the year, with violent incidents averaging more than 10 a day in May, up from four to five a day in January.

Date created : 2011-06-21