Suicide Attack at Funeral In Northern Iraq Kills 17
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
BAGHDAD, Jan. 21 -- A suicide bomber infiltrated a funeral Monday evening and blew himself up among the mourners, killing 17 people in the latest attack in a volatile region of northern Iraq.
The funeral for a local man was being held in a mainly Sunni village south of Baiji, the oil refinery town that was the scene of a major bombing last month. Police there speculated that the bomber might have been targeting Interior Ministry officials attending the funeral.
After the bomber entered the funeral hall, he shook hands with the guests and detonated his explosives, injuring 12 people in addition to those killed, said Capt. Mohammed al-Kaissi of the Baiji police.
Suicide bombers have often targeted funerals because they bring together large crowds of civilians and frequently do not have much security or fortifications. Three weeks ago, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral in Baghdad's Zayouna neighborhood, killing at least 25 people.
To Abdullah Jabbarra, the deputy governor of Salahuddin province, which includes the village of al-Butoma where Monday's bombing took place, the attack was a sign of the vengeful and desperate spirit of Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
"Al-Qaeda is at their weakest state now in that area . . . because the people and the tribes are fighting them," he said. "These are revenge operations against innocent people."
He said that the funeral was for a man who died of natural causes and that he did not think any prominent officials were present. "Usually they expect important people or officials will attend such funeral services, which is why they attack them," he said.
Kaissi, the police captain, said the bombing slightly wounded Col. Ahmed Abdullah al-Juburi, a senior Interior Ministry official in the province.
The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks that have rocked Iraq's northern provinces. As violence has declined in historically embattled regions such as Baghdad and Anbar provinces, it has migrated north to places such as Salahuddin province.
In late December, a car bomb exploded near a checkpoint outside a housing complex for oil industry employees in Baiji, killing 22 people. In Kirkuk, another northern city, two civilians were injured Monday by a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol, according to police spokesman Col. Adnan Abdullah Abdullah.
In Mosul, the northern city that the U.S. military describes as a focus of al-Qaeda in Iraq activity, a car bomb blew up in a market near Iraqi army soldiers, killing two people and wounding nine, said Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem al-Rubaie, a police commander in Nineveh province.
Also Monday, the U.S. military said two American servicemen were killed in recent days. A roadside bomb killed a soldier in Arab Jabour, a district south of Baghdad, and a Marine was killed in Anbar province in western Iraq. The two deaths put the January toll for U.S. troops at 25 through the first three weeks, surpassing December's total of 23.
Special correspondent Naseer Nouri in Baghdad and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.