Suicide Bomber Hits Bus in Iraq's North, Killing at Least Eight

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BAGHDAD, Feb. 26 -- A suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt outside a bus in northern Iraq on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and injuring another eight, U.S. military and Iraqi officials said.

The incident happened north of the city of Tall Afar in Nineveh province, near the city of Mosul, where the Sunni extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq remains strong. The U.S. military blamed the group for Tuesday's attack.

The bomber was riding on the bus when, "during a stop at a routine checkpoint, the Iraqi Army searched passengers for their identification cards," the U.S. military said in a statement, adding that the attacker "exited the bus and then detonated the bomb."

In Baghdad, the Iraqi government demanded that Turkish forces withdraw from northern Iraq, where they have been fighting Kurdish guerrillas who use the area as a base to mount attacks in Turkey. Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Iraq's cabinet condemned the incursion and called it a "violation of Iraq's sovereignty."

"The cabinet calls on Turkey to withdraw its troops immediately and stop the military interventions, and stresses that the military action by one side is unacceptable and threatens the good relations between the two neighboring countries," Dabbagh said.

The Tall Afar bombing followed a bloody weekend of attacks against Shiite pilgrims, the deadliest incident taking place Sunday when a suicide bomber killed at least 63 pilgrims near the southern town of Iskandariyah. Even as overall violence has fallen, the recent attacks underscore the tenuous security environment and the resiliency of the insurgency.

In volatile Diyala province, armed men set up a fake checkpoint north of the city of Baqubah on Tuesday, stopped two minibuses and kidnapped 21 passengers, said Brig. Raghib al-Amiry, a provincial police official.

Near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by Sunni volunteers who had turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq, killing three people, police said.

Also Tuesday, an Arab TV news network broadcast a portion of a video showing a British hostage seized in Iraq nearly a year ago, the Associated Press reported from Cairo.

The hostage, who has been identified as Peter Moore, was kidnapped by heavily armed men in police uniforms in May 2007 from the Iraqi Finance Ministry, together with four British security guards. Moore, who worked for BearingPoint, a U.S.-based management consulting firm, appeared in the video in a black and white tracksuit with a beard and appeared to be in good health.

The al-Arabiya network said on its Web site that it had received the video from a Shiite group offering the five Britons in exchange for nine of its men being held by British forces.

The British Foreign Office confirmed that it had seen the video but would not identify the figure as Moore.

Special correspondent Saad al-Izzi in Baghdad and Washington Post staff in Kirkuk contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company