Series of bomb attacks in Anbar Province kill 15
By Annie Gowen,
BAGHDAD — Fifteen people — most of them police officers — have been killed in a series of attacks over a 24-hour period in Iraq’s Anbar Province, west of Baghdad, officials said Thursday.
Four attacks rippled through and around the town of Fallujah after sundown Thursday, killing six people. They came a day after seven policemen died and nine were wounded when a suicide bomber blew up a minivan at a checkpoint near Ramadi.
On Thursday evening, a car bomb at the Karma district police station near Fallujah killed five police officers, wounded six others and almost leveled the building. One Iraqi soldier was killed and another wounded when a gunman threw a grenade at their Army patrol, on maneuvers south of Fallujah. And Army and police patrols were also targeted by bombs in downtown Fallujah, leaving 11 injured.
Earlier in the day, a roadside bomb outside Ramadi, the provincial capital, killed two bodyguards of an Iraqi Army commander and injured a third, said Lt. Col. Ali Al Dulaimi, a spokesman for the Iraqi Army in Anbar.
Also Thursday night, a car bomb exploded in Eastern Baghdad, killing another soldier and wounding 15 others.
The attacks came a week after more than 80 were killed and more than 300 wounded in a deadly day of violence throughout Iraq. But Dulaini said that Anbar province — once the most violent place in the country, where American soldiers died daily — had been peaceful recently.
Representatives from al-Qaeda in Iraq vowed last week to carry out “100 attacks” to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, which ends next week.
“By God’s will, the campaign starts in the middle of the fasting month and ends by God’s will after 100 attacks exactly,” the statement said. The terror group said that they would use raids, martyrdom operations, roadside bomb and snipers in cities and rural areas throughout Iraq to carry out its threat.
The attacks are occurring at a pivotal time for the U.S. military and the Iraqi government, which continue to debate what role the Americans may play in the country’s security after the deadline for their withdrawal passes on Dec. 31.
There are currently 46,000 troops in Iraq, and officials are discussing whether a small contingent of forces will stay behind in a training capacity in 2012.
Last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he believed that a deal had been reached, but Iraqi government officials immediately dismissed his statement, saying the discussion were continuing.
Special correspondent Uthman al-Mukhtar in Fallujah contributed to this report.