Bombings in Baghdad and Mosul Kill at Least 27; U.S. Patrol Among Those Targeted

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Zaid Sabah
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

BAGHDAD, Dec. 1 -- Bombing attacks targeting Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and a U.S. patrol in the northern city of Mosul left at least 27 people dead and dozens more injured, Iraqi officials said, making Monday one of the deadliest days in recent weeks in Iraq.

The attacks highlighted the fragility of Iraq's security situation as the country prepares for provincial elections early next year. The United Nations mission in Iraq warned Sunday that violence could rise in the run-up to the voting.

In eastern Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt at the back gate of a police academy about 1 p.m. Two minutes later, another bomber exploded a booby-trapped car at the main entrance of a nearby government building, said Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, the top spokesman for Iraqi military operations in Baghdad.

In a statement, the U.S. military said 15 policemen were killed and 35 policemen and civilians were injured in the attack. Iraqi authorities said the blasts killed 11 people and injured 34.

When the blasts occurred, students were leaving the academy after classes, said Lt. Ahmad Kadhim, a member of the SWAT team assigned to guard the academy. He said his men had left their posts to receive their salaries.

"The bomber seized this opportunity, so it seems the suicide attack was organized," Kadhim said. "The bomber received information from inside the academy telling him that the SWAT team is not available."

In Mosul, a suicide bomber struck a U.S. military patrol, detonating his explosives about 9:40 a.m., the U.S. military said in a statement. Initial reports said that no U.S. soldiers were injured but that "the battle damage assessment may change."

A hospital official in Mosul said the blast killed 15 people and wounded 25. Brig Gen. Khalid Abdul Sattar, an Iraqi military spokesman in Nineveh province, where Mosul is located, said 17 people died and 37 were injured, including women and children.

While its influence has diminished in other parts of Iraq, the Sunni insurgency remains potent in Mosul, staging attacks in recent months against U.S. and Iraqi forces, Christian civilians and local journalists.

Mohammed Salam al-Obeidy, a 23-year-old laborer, was carrying goods in his cart when the attack unfolded.

"A huge explosion shook the buildings and everything flew to the sky," Obeidy recalled. "I felt something hit my right leg and then I fell to the ground. My leg began bleeding, so I crawled to a nearby shop. I was screaming because of the pain."

The shopkeeper helped him into a car to get to the hospital, along with another man with a head wound.

"Seconds later, another explosion took place and our driver fled the car," Obeidy said. "We thought we were going to die. But then the driver came back and took us to the hospital."

Also Monday, a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad near the convoy of a senior Defense Ministry official, wounding him, killing one of his bodyguards and injuring three other guards and three civilians, Atta said.

The blast occurred as the official, Maj. Gen Mudher al-Maula, left his home in a mainly Sunni Muslim enclave of northern Baghdad, Atta said.

Maula is in charge of integrating into the Iraqi security forces the Sons of Iraq, the groups of mostly Sunni tribesmen and former insurgents who allied themselves with U.S. forces. The Sons of Iraq are widely credited with helping bring down violence in the country, and the Iraqi government recently took over responsibility for many of the groups in Baghdad.

Special correspondents K.I. Ibrahim and Dalya Hassan in Baghdad and Dlovan Brwari in Mosul contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company