Suicide Bomber Kills 15 at Iraq Police HQ

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RBIL, Iraq - A suicide car bomber killed at least 15 traffic police and wounded about 100 more Monday outside the unit's headquarters in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, police and hospital officials said.

Iraq's insurgency appeared unfazed by two massive U.S.-Iraqi military offensives against militant smuggling routes and training centers west and north of Baghdad, mounting attacks that have killed at least 82 people in the past two days — including a U.S. soldier killed by a roadside bomb in northern Iraq.

Militants, meanwhile, claimed in a Web posting that they killed a foreign contractor working for a U.S. company along with six of his Iraqi guards in an ambush west of Baghdad.

The bomber in Irbil wore a police uniform and slammed his car into a gathering of some 200 traffic police during roll call in a courtyard behind the headquarters Monday morning, police Lt. Sulaiman Mohammed said.

Dr. Mohammed Ali of Irbil General Hospital revised his earlier count of 20 dead to 13, saying he miscounted bodies amid the confusion. Massive car bombs usually scatter body parts over wide areas and emergency services often miscount them.


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Dr. Tahseen Hassan reported that Irbil Teaching Hospital received one body from the blast. Another injured man died at yet another hospital.

The attack occurred on a main street that leads to the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, which is south of Irbil, police said.

Irbil, one of two major cities in Iraq's Kurdish region, has enjoyed autonomous rule under Western protection since 1991. The area has been largely sheltered from the violence in the rest of Iraq but has seen several major bombings blamed on militant Muslim groups.

A suicide car bomber also rammed into an Iraqi army checkpoint in Kirkuk, killing five soldiers and wounding three Monday evening, army and police officers said.

Elsewhere, a suicide car bomber ripped through a convoy carrying a Kurdish town's security director, killing him and three of his bodyguards, said Anwar Kokoyei, a senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan political party. The attack happened in Halabja, which was the site of a 1998 poison gas attack by Saddam Hussein's regime that killed at least 5,000 people.

The violence came a day after a suicide bomber walked into a crowded Baghdad kebab restaurant near the heavily fortified main gate of U.S. and Iraqi government headquarters at the Green Zone, killing at least 23 people, including policemen — the deadliest attack in the capital in just over six weeks. A total of 45 people were killed in insurgent assaults throughout the country Sunday.

Most of the suicide attackers are thought to belong to extremist groups like al-Qaida in Iraq, which has authorized members to kill other Muslims, including women and children, in their quest to destabilize the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

The rate of insurgent attacks has risen dramatically since al-Jaafari announced his Cabinet on April 28. At least 1,189 people have been killed since then.

In the Internet claim, the militant group Ansar al-Sunnah Army said its fighters attacked a convoy leaving a base near the town of Ramadi, killing the seven men and capturing two other Iraqi guards. The statement did not say when the attack took place and it could not be confirmed.

Also Monday, Sunni Arabs submitted a list of 15 candidates for a Shiite-dominated committee drafting Iraq's constitution but were having second thoughts about a demand by legislators that they first win the backing of a larger Sunni group.

The latest snag in efforts to give Sunni Arabs a bigger say in drafting the constitution will likely take days to resolve, further eroding the little time remaining for the charter to be drafted by mid-August.

Elsewhere, a band of insurgents launched a bold assault on a Baghdad police station killing eight policemen and an 8-month-old baby early Monday, police said. At least 23 were wounded.

The attack on the Baya police station in southwestern Baghdad began just before dawn and included two car suicide bombs, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, police Capt. Talib Thamir said.