Roadside bomb kills Iraqi police chief


A roadside bomb killed the police chief of a predominantly Shia province of Iraq south of Baghdad today just hours after US military commanders had publicly praised his efforts to secure his region.

The attack on Major-General Qais al-Mamouri's convoy follows a threat by an al-Qaeda-linked group to carry out car bomb attacks and strikes on Iraqi security forces and neighbourhood security patrols working with US  soldiers.

It also comes at a time when tensions are high between rival Shia groups in the oil producing south of the country.

Police said Gen Mamouri, police chief of Babel province, was killed when the bomb struck his convoy near the local capital Hilla, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad.

They said it was the seventh attempt on Gen Mamouri's life since he became Babel police chief a few years ago. Police immediately declared a curfew in Hilla.

At a media briefing in Baghdad hours before the blast, US  military commanders had lauded Gen Mamouri.

"We're very lucky in Babel province to have Major-General Qais, who is a very good Iraqi police chief for that province," Colonel Tom James, commander of a US  combat brigade in north Babel, said before the assassination. "He is committed to securing Iraq for the people, the population. He does not see anything through a sectarian lens, it's all about Iraqi law, and the people see that."

Asked for the U.S. military's reaction to his assassination, a spokeswoman said: "This is a terrible loss."

A roadside bomb killed the police chief of Diwaniya province in southern Iraq in August. Other provincial police chiefs across Iraq have survived numerous assassination attempts.