Dozens die in Iraq bombings


Two bombings killed at least 25 people at a checkpoint outside a provincial Iraqi governor's house today in the latest attack targeting local government and security forces.

The suicide bomber blew himself up and a car bomb exploded outside the Diwaniya governor's house, 150km south of Baghdad, just as guards changed shifts. Most of the victims were security staff, officials said.

Television footage showed the crumpled and burnt out wreckage of a white truck lying by the remains of a guard post. Bloodied and wounded security guards filled the beds of a hospital.

Muayad al-Ansary, a spokesman for the provincial council in Diwaniya, said the death toll had risen to 25 killed and 35 more were wounded.

Bombings and killings in Iraq have fallen sharply since the height of sectarian violence in 2006-2007, but a stubborn Sunni Islamist insurgency linked to al-Qaeda, other Sunni groups and rival Shia militias still carry out daily attacks.

Violence has increasingly targeted security forces and provincial government officials as US troops prepare to withdraw from Iraq, an OPEC member, by a year-end deadline more than eight years after the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.

Five more people were killed and nine wounded in a separate attack today when a bomb exploded in a restaurant in Mussayab, 60km south of Baghdad.

In the city of Ramadi, about 100km west of Baghdad in mainly Sunni Anbar province, a police bomb squad was called to defuse two car bombs placed a few hundred metres from government buildings. The first was deactivated, but the second exploded, wounding one officer, police said.

Diwaniya is a poor, mainly Shia region and several of Iraq's armed groups are active in the area. Bombings and attacks have hit local government buildings in the last four months and security officials have said they expect increased attacks on provincial offices.

The Diwaniya attack followed a similar pattern to an attack on a checkpoint in Tikrit earlier this month when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives as army guards were handing over security duty to police.

Gunmen and suicide bombers a week ago stormed a provincial council building in Baquba in the central province of Diyala, killing at least eight people before Iraqi forces retook the building with the help of US troops.

In March, gunmen stormed a provincial council headquarters in Tikrit, taking hostages before security forces ended the siege. At least 58 people were killed in the assault, claimed by a local al-Qaeda affiliate.

The remaining 47,000 US troops are scheduled to leave at the end of the year but Iraqi leaders are discussing the sensitive question of whether to ask at least some of them to stay on in a training and advising role.