Bomb Blasts Across Iraq Kill at Least 15, Wound Dozens

By Nada Bakri
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BAGHDAD, Sept. 28 -- Explosions across Iraq on Monday killed at least 15 people and wounded many others, police said, further testing the ability of the Iraqi armed forces to keep the country safe.

A suicide bomber driving a water tanker loaded with explosives blew himself up near a police station in Anbar province, killing seven policemen and wounding 10. The explosion, in the provincial capital of Ramadi, a former insurgent stronghold 60 miles west of Baghdad, burned at least half a dozen cars parked nearby and damaged several buildings.

In Diwaniyah, a town about 100 miles south of Baghdad, a bomb planted in a minibus exploded, killing at least three passengers and wounding two.

In western Baghdad, two bombs exploded in the Sunni neighborhood of Ghazaliyah, killing three people, including the commander of an army battalion. Security officials said at least 28 people were wounded.

In the northern city of Mosul, in a region where many insurgents are believed to have regrouped after they were driven from Baghdad and other provinces, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded, killing two policemen.

Violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq since the sectarian bloodshed of 2006 and 2007. But roadside explosions, assassinations and small bombs placed under cars are still frequent. Security forces remain a prime target for militants.

Iraqis fear that their armed forces are not yet capable of maintaining security. U.S. forces completed a withdrawal from inner cities in June and will continue to draw down troops until all combat forces leave Iraq in August 2010 as part of an Iraqi-U.S. security agreement.

Despite the violence, Iraq's chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, said at a news conference this week in Baghdad that Iraqis this year enjoyed their safest Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that follows the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The three-day holiday ended Wednesday.

Atta said security forces increased the number of checkpoints in and around Baghdad, which led to the arrest of several wanted militants and the confiscation of weapons and explosives.

But, Atta warned, "the enemy is trying to strike inside Baghdad. Our job is to tighten security as much as possible."

The death toll Monday was the highest since Sept. 10, when a suicide bomber driving a truck laden with explosives plowed his vehicle into a Kurdish village in northern Iraq, killing 20 people.

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