15 dead in Iraq suicide blast


BAQUBA – A suicide bomber driving an ambulance has killed up to 15 people and wounded more than 50 in an attack on an Iraqi police training centre in volatile Diyala province, officials have said.

Suspected Sunni insurgents and Shia militia have stepped up attacks in recent months on Iraqi policemen and soldiers, seeking to undermine faith in the security forces before a full US military withdrawal by the end of this year.

A spokeswoman for the provincial governor said 15 people were killed and 52 wounded in the blast in the city of Baquba, 65km northeast of Baghdad. Police sources in Baquba put the death toll at 14, with 64 wounded.

One police source said there were two attackers. One of them shot dead three security guards at the gates of the training centre, opening the way for a second assailant to drive the ambulance in.

The blast caused part of the three-storey building, with offices for different departments of Iraqi police and security, to collapse, said Lieut Col Hisham al-Tamimi, head of the counterterrorism department in Diyala.

“I can see hands and legs of dead policemen sticking out from under the rubble,” a policeman at the blast site said.

The attack yesterday was the second by a suicide bomber in two days on Iraqi security forces. At least 49 people were killed in Tikrit, the home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, on Tuesday when a suicide bomber attacked a line of police recruits.

That was the bloodiest attack in Iraq since prime minister Nuri al- Maliki won support in December for his reappointment, ending a nine-month stalemate that followed a March election.

Overall violence has fallen sharply since 2006-07 peak of the sectarian slaughter between once dominant Sunnis and majority Shia triggered after the 2003 US-led invasion. – (Reuters)