Three bombings in Iraq's Diyala province kill at least 33 people

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 4, 2010

BAGHDAD -- Three bombings in Iraq's Diyala province targeting government and medical buildings killed at least 33 people Wednesday morning, raising fears about deteriorating security days before Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Iraqi police officials said at least 55 people were wounded in the blasts.

The initial explosion, a car bomb, targeted an Iraqi police station about 9:45 a.m. in a western district of Baqubah, the provincial capital, according to Maj. Ghalib Aativa, a police spokesman. The detonation ripped through a nearby building and reduced it to rubble.

Minutes later, a suicide bomber in a car detonated explosives near the main provincial building, which has been the target of numerous attacks in recent years. The blast destroyed the office of former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafari's political party. Jafari, a Shiite, is a candidate in the elections.

Shortly afterward, as the provincial police commander was walking into the city's main hospital to check on wounded police officers, a suicide bomber on foot detonated explosives near the main gate that leads to the emergency room.

Provincial authorities imposed a curfew in Baqubah.

Officials were quick to blame the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has carried out a series of large-scale bombings in Diyala in the run-up to the elections.

Those wounded in Wednesday's bombings cursed the perpetrators as well as the security forces that they said failed to protect them. "This happened due to negligence by security leaders, and now I'm suffering from a wound in my left hand," said Ali al-Tameemi, the head of the Diyala health center. "One of my colleagues was killed."

In Sunni Arab districts, residents say insurgents have distributed leaflets threatening them with violence if they go to the polls. Despite the threat, most Sunni Arabs say they intend to vote. They are eager to augment their political clout after the 2005 parliamentary elections, which many Sunni blocs boycotted.

A special correspondent in Baqubah contributed to this report.

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