Triple attacks in Ramadi kill at least 19

At least 19 people have died in three bomb attacks in Ramadi, capital of the mostly Sunni province of Anbar. Two of the bombs exploded near a government building, and the other at a hospital.


AFP - Twin car bombs and an apparently coordinated suicide attack killed 19 people in Iraq's western city of Ramadi on Sunday, in an explosion of violence blamed on police collusion.

Officials said more than 80 people were injured in the blasts, which shattered a relative lull in Iraqi violence.

The two car bombs exploded in quick succession in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, near the offices of the provincial governor while a meeting was in progress, a police official said.

"The attacks killed 19 people, including nine police," an interior ministry official told AFP. "Eighty-one other people are wounded and 30 cars are completely burned."

The official said 80 percent of the wounded were police, and 10 percent of the injured were in critical condition.

An AFP journalist in the building said the first bomb went off at around 12.30 pm (0930 GMT) about 20 metres (yards) from the building in a civilian parking lot, speeding the arrival of firemen and police.

A second car bomb then exploded, the journalist said, leading police to seal off the area, which was littered with body parts.

Shortly afterwards at Ramadi General Hospital, where victims had been rushed for treatment, a suicide bomber killed at least two people and wounded four others.

Anbar Deputy Governor Hekmat Jassim Zaidan blamed police inaction and collaboration for the attacks.

"Anbar police did not perform their duties well," he told AFP.

"They were unable to provide security to innocent civilians. Someone inside the security forces is behind these security violations."

The meeting in the government offices was between provincial officials, including directors for services such as health care and water, and tribal leaders.

Provincial governor Qasim Mohammed Abid said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television the attack had not been directed against the government buildings but targeted a nearby parking lot for civilian cars.

"The attack took place 500 metres (yards) from my office. It was a crime against civilians. It was at a... normal garage for cars of the people," Abid said.

Iraqi police and soldiers dramatically increased their presence on Ramadi's streets in the aftermath of the attacks, and security forces also imposed a curfew, blocking any cars from entering or exiting the city.

Anbar police, meanwhile, announced a reward of 10 million Iraqi dinars (8,700 dollars) for any information related to those behind the blasts.

The US military did not immediately give details on whether it was providing support to Iraqi security forces in the area.

The attacks are the latest sign that unrest in Iraq's biggest province of Anbar is on the rise.

Anbar became the theatre of a brutal war focused on the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion, while several towns along the Euphrates river valley became insurgent strongholds and later safe havens for fighters.

But since 2006, local Sunni tribes there have sided with the US military. Daily violence has dropped dramatically in Anbar as Al-Qaeda fighters have been ejected from the region.

This month, however, there have been several attacks in Anbar.

Last week, a car bomb outside a Sunni mosque southwest of Fallujah around the time of evening prayers killed seven people and wounded 29.

A day earlier, a suicide bombing at a funeral in Haditha, one of several towns along the Euphrates valley that also became Al-Qaeda strongholds after the invasion, killed five people.

And on September 28, a suicide attacker killed seven policemen and wounded 10 others when he blew up a water tanker packed with explosives at a quick response unit's headquarters on the highway from Ramadi towards Jordan and Syria.

Violent deaths in Iraq dropped by more than half in September compared with the previous month, official figures showed last week, with 203 people killed across the country.

September's death toll was the lowest since May, when a total of 155 people were killed.

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