Suicide bomber kills senior Iraqi police official, 4 others in Tikrit

By Ernesto Londoño and Muhanned Saif Aldin
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 4, 2009

BAGHDAD -- A suicide bomber killed a senior Iraqi police official in the northern city of Tikrit on Thursday in an attack that authorities blamed on al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The bomber ran toward Lt. Col. Ahmad al-Fahal, who headed the city's anti-terrorism and anti-riot force, as he was walking in a crowded market, according to Lt. Ibrahim al-Duri, a police spokesman in Tikrit.

Duri said the bomber yelled the colonel's name before detonating the explosives, which also killed two guards and two civilians. Nine people, including two policemen, were wounded. Tikrit was the home town of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Violence in Iraq has ebbed in recent months, but the Sunni Muslim insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq is seeking to destabilize the government by targeting key government facilities and officials.

Fahal was known for his dogged approach to battling Sunni insurgents. Colleagues at the Interior Ministry referred to him informally as the "terrorism destroyer," an Iraqi police official said. Fahal once boasted in a TV interview of killing 168 foreign fighters, a term used to describe non-Iraqi Arabs who travel to Iraq at the behest of Sunni insurgent groups.

Meanwhile, Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, expressed optimism that the impasse over legislation to organize upcoming national elections will be overcome soon.

Iraqi political leaders have reached a tentative deal to resolve complaints from Sunnis and Kurds, but the Kurds have yet to sign off on it.

Hashimi's office said the vice president retains the right to veto the legislation until Sunday. Hashimi's veto of the original bill sent it back to parliament. The amended legislation was passed last month over the objection of some Sunnis who said they would be disenfranchised.

Aldin, a special correspondent, reported from Tikrit. Special correspondents Qais Mizher and K.I. Ibrahim in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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