Bombings kill 21 people in Iraqi city of Diwaniya

Suicide bomber, car bomb planted outside a governor's house in the central Iraqi city kill at least 21 people and injure more than 30.

iraq bomb 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
iraq bomb 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BAGHDAD - At least 21 people were killed on Tuesday when bombs exploded at a checkpoint outside a provincial governor's house in central Iraq, the latest attack targeting a government building, local authorities said.
One suicide bomber blew himself up and at least one car bomb exploded outside the Diwaniya governor's house, 150 km (95 miles) south of Baghdad, as guards changed shifts at the checkpoint. Most of the victims were guards, officials said.
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"I heard a loud blast and then another one. I opened the door and I saw white smoke and smelled the blood... I looked to the side and I saw three guards dead on the ground," said Maha al-Sagban, a local resident whose house was damaged.
The initial toll was 21 killed at the checkpoint, said Fadhel Mawat, a spokesman for the provincial council.
A source at a hospital in Diwaniya said at least 22 people had been killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack.
Another five people were killed and nine wounded in a separate attack when a bomb exploded in a restaurant in the town of Mussayab, about 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
Bombings and killings in Iraq have fallen sharply since the height of sectarian violence in 2006-2007, but a stubborn Sunni Islamist insurgency linked to al-Qaida, other Sunni groups and rival Shi'ite militias still carry out daily attacks.
Violence has increasingly targeted security forces and provincial government officials as US troops prepare to withdraw from the OPEC oil producer by a year-end deadline more than eight years after the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Diwaniya is a poor, mainly Shi'ite region and several of Iraq's armed groups are active in the area.
A series of bombings and attacks have hit local government buildings in the last four months. Security officials have said they expect increased attacks on provincial offices.
The Diwaniya attack followed a similar pattern to an attack on a checkpoint in Tikrit earlier this month when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives as army guards were handing over security duty to police.
Gunmen and suicide bombers a week ago stormed a provincial council building in Baquba in the central province of Diyala, killing at least eight people before Iraqi forces retook the building with the help of US troops.
In March, gunmen stormed a provincial council headquarters in Tikrit, taking hostages before security forces ended the siege. At least 58 people were killed in the assault, claimed by a local al-Qaida affiliate.
The remaining 47,000 US troops are scheduled to leave at the end of the year, but Iraqi leaders are discussing the sensitive question of whether to ask at least some of them to stay on in a training and advising role.