Bombing at Tikrit Police Station Kills 9
Monday, February 12, 2007
BAGHDAD, Feb. 11 -- Nine police officers were killed Sunday near Tikrit when a suicide bomber drove up to a police station and detonated explosives hidden under hay on the bed of a truck, the U.S. military and Iraqi officials said.
The blast, which took place at 9:15 a.m. in front of the Dawr police station, wounded several children at a school across the street and damaged several houses, Iraqi officials said.
"I was inside the police station and . . . there was a loud explosion that I could not describe, for I have not heard anything like that before in my life," said an officer, Ahmed Subhi, 23. "I was holding a tray with teacups, and the last thing I remember was that I was being pushed along with the tray toward one of the walls in the room and parts of the ceiling falling on me."
Dawr, in a heavily Sunni Muslim area in north-central Iraq, is near the site where U.S. officials found deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein hiding in December 2003.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Sunday that the Baghdad security plan, which officials have described as a gradual, concentrated effort to step up patrols in the capital, will speed up this week.
"It will not start in one area in particular but in all areas at the same time, and those who will participate in conducting it are from all the spectrums of Iraq, from which the police and army troops are made up," he said.
The country's police and army are predominantly Shiite.
Maliki said troops will simultaneously seal off 10 areas of the capital to crack down on insurgent and militia groups and protect homes abandoned by Iraqis who have fled the violence.
Also Sunday, the U.S. military announced that a Multi-National Division soldier was killed Sunday in western Baghdad. The soldier was shot when his unit was "conducting a cordon and search operation," the military said in a statement. A second soldier was wounded by small-arms fire.
Maj. Gen. James E. Simmons, deputy U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad that U.S. helicopters in Iraq have come under attack 100 times per month on average since 2004.
Simmons said helicopter travel in Iraq has increased considerably in recent years as roads have become more dangerous. He said U.S. Army helicopters were expected to log 400,000 hours of flight time this year; in 2005 they logged 240,000 hours.
Simmons said that most U.S. helicopters shot down recently in Iraq crashed in predominantly Sunni areas but that there was no evidence insurgents were using sophisticated weapons to bring them down.
"There is no indication that we have seen that the enemy is employing any form of advanced ground-to-air missile," he said.
A U.S. military spokesman said Sunday night that a report from Iraqi police in Tikrit indicating that an AH-64 Apache helicopter had been shot down earlier in the day was unfounded.