Bombing Near Police Station Kills 23 in Iraq

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 13, 2008

BAGHDAD, Sept. 12 -- A truck bombing near a police station killed at least 23 people north of Baghdad on Friday evening, the U.S. military and Iraqi officials said.

Mass casualty bombings have become infrequent in recent months as insurgent groups have lost support and Iraqi security forces have become more proficient. But al-Qaeda in Iraq and other groups continue to carry out attacks, frequently against Iraqi security forces.

Friday's bombing targeted a police station in Dujail, a town 12 miles south of Balad, at approximately 6:20 p.m., the U.S. military said in a statement.

Haidar al-Baldawi, a physician at the Balad hospital, provided a higher death toll, saying that 33 people were killed and at least 35 wounded. He said most of the victims were women and children.

"We don't have the capability to treat all the victims," Baldawi said in a telephone interview. "We have a shortage of medicine to stop bleeding."

Capt. Ali al-Marsoumi of the Dujail police said the truck was parked near a market, roughly 100 feet from a police station. People inside the police station were unharmed because it is surrounded by blast walls, he said.

The market was crowded when the bombing occurred because people were buying food for iftar, the evening meal that ends the fast between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan.

Mohammed Hussein, 24, a merchant who sells pickles at the market, said his shop was damaged by the blast.

"I went out of my shop and I saw a big black cloud of smoke covering the place," he said. "The smell of the burned flesh and the moaning of the injured were the only thing I remember."

Earlier Friday, in Sinjar, also in northern Iraq, two people were killed and 12 were wounded after a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a Shiite mosque, the U.S. military said in a statement.

The bomber targeted worshipers as they were exiting the mosque, the military said.

Special correspondent Zaid Sabah in Baghdad and Washington Post staff in Salahuddin province contributed to this report.

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