People gather around a destroyed car after a suici.
(photo credit: AP)
Suicide attackers struck near a Shiite mosque north
of Baghdad and a checkpoint west of the capital on Monday as bombings
killed at least 17 people nationwide.
The violence was concentrated in former Sunni
insurgent strongholds that have seen a sharp decline in violence after
local tribal leaders turned against al-Qaida in Iraq. Despite the
relative calm, a series of deadly bombings have raised concerns about a
resurgence of violence as the US military scales back its presence,
with a full withdrawal planned by the end of 2011.
The attacks - which mainly targeted checkpoints and Iraqi
policemen - also highlighted the weaknesses in the Iraqi security
forces, which are struggling to prove they are ready to take over from
The deadliest attack was a suicide car bomber who struck a line
of vehicles waiting to be inspected before crossing a bridge near the
Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi
, police said.
The blast set half a dozen other vehicles ablaze,
killing three policemen and five civilians and wounding 16 other
people, according to police and hospital officials, who spoke on
condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to release the
A farmer riding in a pickup truck not far behind the attacker's
car ran toward the scene, where he described seeing a child who had
been blown by the blast onto the roof of a car.
Hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up at
the gate of a Shiite mosque in Baqouba, 35 miles (60 kilometers)
northeast of Baghdad, killing at least five people - three policemen
and two worshippers - and wounding 20, according to police and hospital
Maj. Ghalib al-Karkhi of the provincial police said the bomber
was forced to detonate his explosives prematurely after guards tried to
search him and discovered his suicide vest.
The mainly Sunni city of Baqouba also has been hit by several bombings despite an overall decline in violence.
In Baghdad on Monday, a bomb destroyed a police car, killing one
officer and two civilians and wounding eight, police said. Another bomb
killed a driver as he approached a military checkpoint in the Sadr City
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has sought to reassure Iraqis
that the US-trained security forces are capable of taking over from
American troops who have withdrawn from the country's cities.
Recent bombings, especially an Aug. 19 attack on government
ministries in Baghdad that killed about 100 people, have shaken
people's confidence at a crucial time, just months before Iraqis go to
the polls in January to choose a new parliament.
Iraq's rampant corruption has also become a key election issue.
Corruption watchdog Transparency International rated Iraq in 2008 as
the third most corrupt country in the world after Somalia and Myanmar.
The Iraqi government had long played down the issue before announcing a
crackdown this year.
A judge said Monday that it issued two new arrest warrants. A
senior Finance Ministry official in charge of the auditing department
is accused of wasting public funds, judge Arif Shahin said.
Authorities are also seeking Iraq's ambassador to Jordan. He is
accused of sheltering a fellow Saddam Hussein-era diplomat who is
wanted in the 1994 assassination of an Iraqi dissident in Beirut, said
another judge at the court, Ali al-Rubaie.
The ambassador, Saad al-Hiyyani, denied the accusation and said he had not been notified of any warrant against him.
The Shiite dissident, Talib al-Suhail, was killed by Iraqi
intelligence agents during the rule of Saddam's Sunni regime. Iraq's
postwar Shiite-dominated government began pursuing the case in 2005,
The suspect who Iraq's government believes is in Jordan, Awad
Fakhri, was charge d'affaires of the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut at the
time of the assassination. He also worked as head of the Arab affairs
department at the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad until retiring in 2005.
The ambassador to Jordan questioned why the government did not
try to arrest him then. He added that Fakhri was most likely in Syria,
"The charges (against me) are false," Ambassador al-Hiyyani
said. "They are malicious and bear hidden motives to tarnish my public
In northern Iraq, two children playing with a hand grenade they
found in a stream were killed when it exploded, said police in the city
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