Truck Bomb Kills 9 in Western Iraq

By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 6, 2009; 2:54 PM

BAGHDAD, Oct. 6-- A pickup truck piled with explosives blew up in front of a restaurant frequented by Iraqi police near Fallujah on Tuesday, killing nine people and wounding dozens more in the second attack in as many days in western Iraq.

After the bombing, a curfew was imposed on Amiriyah, about 10 miles south of Fallujah, a town once synonymous with Iraq's insurgency that has largely quieted in past years. Residents and police, though, have warned that violence seems to be worsening lately in Fallujah and other towns along the Euphrates River that stretch west of Baghdad.

"Security forces are still looking for victims under the rubble," said Shaker al-Issawi, who serves as the head of the municipal council in Amiriyah, adding that at least 31 people were wounded.

Witnesses said the explosion was so powerful that corpses were hurled onto the roofs of neighboring buildings. The victims appeared to be civilians, police and members of Sons of Iraq, a U.S.-backed militia that fought the insurgency in 2007 and 2008.

Unlike previous attacks, Tuesday's blast was not the work of a suicide bomber. A witness, 27-year-old Mohammed al-Issawi, who sells tea on the street, said the assailant parked the blue truck and left about 15 minutes before the explosion. Some residents blamed lax security at checkpoints for letting the truck into the town.

The attack came a day after a man with explosives strapped to his body blew himself up at a funeral service in the town of Haditha, further west along the Euphrates. At least six people were killed and 15 injured. The funeral was held for the mother of a well-known figure in the town who was once an official in the government of President Saddam Hussein. Among those attending were police and members of the Sons of Iraq.

As residents ferried the dead and wounded to the hospital, mosques broadcast appeals over their loudspeakers for residents to donate blood.

A vast desert bisected by the Euphrates, Anbar province was once the cradle of the insurgency. But after tribes and the Sons of Iraq turned against the insurgents in 2006, the region gradually came under the control of the provincial government and the U.S. military. American soldiers have since withdrawn from all but a handful of bases.

But in past months, violence has increased. Insurgents have proven they remain a presence in Anbar, with the logistics and men to carry out attacks on tribal figures, U.S.-backed militiamen, security forces and provincial officials. Some residents have also blamed political infighting ahead of January's election, as factions and figures turn to violence to settle disputes that many expect to escalate.

Special correspondent Othman al-Mukhtar in Fallujah contributed to this report.

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