Bomb Kills 14 in Iraqi City That Bush Had Lauded as Safe

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 8, 2006

BAGHDAD, Oct. 7 -- A suicide car bomb slammed into an Iraqi army checkpoint Saturday and killed at least 14 people in Tall Afar, a northern city that President Bush has previously hailed as a symbol of security and normalcy in Iraq.

The fiery explosion, which occurred at 10 a.m. in the city's Salam neighborhood, also wounded at least 11 people, mainly civilians in cars that had been stopped at the checkpoint, authorities said.

"There were screams and shouts of people calling for help," said Hameed Buhriz, 43, a taxi driver who was wounded and knocked unconscious by the attack. "I felt like I was being crushed against the door of my car. After that, I do not recall what happened."

The assault -- which occurred as two construction workers were killed by gunmen west of the city -- followed another suicide bombing in Tall Afar last month that killed at least 21 people and wounded 18. Taken together, the attacks seemed to undercut the president's assertion in March that residents of Tall Afar "can count on a basic level of safety and security, they can live together peacefully."

Violence continued to rage across Iraq on Saturday. At least 25 people were killed in separate attacks, the Associated Press reported. The Reuters news service quoted the Interior Ministry as saying 51 bodies had been found in Baghdad in the past 24 hours, many tortured and bound.

The U.S. military announced that a soldier assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, was killed Friday by enemy action near the city of Baiji, north of Baghdad.

In Kirkuk, a volatile mixed city in the north, Iraqi and U.S.-led forces launched a major security operation, dubbed "the key to peace," to root out members of al-Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups. Authorities imposed a 6 p.m. curfew and announced the detention of 155 suspected insurgents.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad met in Baghdad with more than 100 tribal leaders from volatile Anbar province who have formed a group, known as the Anbar Salvation Council, to fight al-Qaeda and insurgent groups. The tribal leaders have asked Maliki to sack the provincial government and replace it with their new council, but a government spokesman said such a decision would have to be made instead by the people of Anbar.

"If the people of Anbar do decide that they want to have this change," said the spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, "then the government does not object."

Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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