Iraqi officials: Bombs kill 8, wound dozens in explosions south of Baghdad

By Saad Abdul-kadir, AP
Monday, May 10, 2010

Double-bombing kills 8, injures dozens

BAGHDAD — Iraqi security officials say a double bombing has killed at least eight Iraqi civilians and wounded at least 28 others.

The Monday explosions — one in a parked car and the other planted along a road — happened in Suwayrah, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said eight were killed and 28 wounded, but a police official in the nearby town of Kut said as many as 71 were injured.

Differing casualty figures are common in the immediate aftermath of bombings in Iraq.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Earlier Monday, officials said at least 10 people were killed in attacks across the Iraqi capital targeting police and army personnel.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BAGHDAD (AP) — At least 10 people were killed on Monday in what appears to be a coordinated attack across the Iraqi capital targeting police and army personnel, Iraqi officials said.

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the attacks seemed to be a deliberate attempt by insurgents to prove they were still able to hit in the heart of the capital despite recent successes by U.S. and Iraqi security forces in dismantling terror networks operating in Iraq.

The attacks also come at a precarious time as Iraq awaits a new government to be formed more than two months after landmark parliamentary elections and worries that insurgents will try to exploit the ongoing political uncertainty to stoke new violence.

Monday’s violence was mostly the work of gunmen in speeding cars attacking police and army checkpoints that dot the city as well as military patrols in the early morning hours, officials said.

At least 21 people were also injured in the attacks.

The first attack came around 3 a.m. in western Baghdad when gunmen in a speeding car opened fire on an army patrol, killing one soldier and injuring another, Iraqi officials said.

That incident was followed by at least six other attacks. Although most of them were drive-by shootings, a roadside bomb in western Baghdad targeting a police patrol killed three civilians.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Iraqi military and police fanned out across the city following the incidents, and additional checkpoints were set up in several Baghdad neighborhoods.

It was not immediately known who was behind the attacks or how many people were involved in the incidents which took place over roughly 2 1/2 hours in five different neighborhoods across the capital.

Insurgents have often targeted Iraqi police and army as a way to undermine the country’s fragile security and intimidate the security forces.

Violence in the city and the rest of the country has fallen dramatically since the height of the insurgency in 2006 and 2007. But with two months gone after Iraq’s March 7 election and no government in sight, there are concerns that the sectarian violence that once battered the city daily will reappear.

The election has pitted incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against fellow Shiite, but secular challenger Ayad Allawi. Allawi’s Iraqiya coalition, heavily backed by the country’s Sunni Arab minority, won 91 seats compared to al-Maliki’s 89 seats, but the prime minister has challenged the results at every turn.

The election results have yet to be certified by the country’s highest court — which must happen before any new government can be formed — and a recount demanded by al-Maliki in Baghdad is ongoing.

If the results are overturned or Allawi is not perceived as the winner deserving a legitimate shot at forming a government, that could in turn outrage the Sunnis who supported him. Sunni anger at the Shiite-led government was a key reason behind the insurgency.

Meanwhile in the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul, at least two people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb near a checkpoint, according to Iraqi army colonel Rebwar Younis.

The attack came near a joint security checkpoint run by Iraqi security forces and Kurdish security forces known as the peshmerga, he said. Both of the dead were peshmergas.

The joint checkpoints were set up under the supervision of American troops earlier this year as a way to get Iraqi and Kurdish forces working together in areas claimed by both the Kurds and the Iraqi federal government.

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