Iraqi insurgent group claims deadly Anbar bombing

AP News
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Posted: Jan 03, 2010 11:33 AM

An Iraqi insurgent group claimed responsibility Sunday for a double bombing last month that killed 24 people and severely injured a provincial governor.

The Islamic state of Iraq called the Dec. 30 blasts in Ramadi, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, "a divine blow" against "the criminal security apparatus" in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site. The group purports to speak for a range of insurgent factions linked to al-Qaida in Iraq. It previously claimed responsibility for the Dec. 8 bombings in Baghdad which killed 127 people.

The authenticity of the statements could not be independently verified.

Ramadi is the capital of Anbar, a province that was the heartland of the insurgency before its tribal leaders turned against al-Qaida. Their Sunni militias began fighting alongside the Iraqi government and coalition forces in a program known as "Sons of Iraq" or the "Awakening Councils."

The shift in allegiance was a major cause of the reduction in violence but the group and many Sunni political figures have been targeted for cooperating with the Shiite-led government. Some Sunni militia leaders are worried that the slow pace at which their fighters are being integrated into Iraq's national security forces shows that the government is not serious about working with them.

In the Dec. 30 attacks, a car driven by a suicide bomber blew up near a checkpoint on the main road near the provincial administration buildings. The governor, Qassim al-Fahdawi, and other officials came out of their offices to inspect the damage from the blast. A second suicide bomber wearing a military uniform walked toward the governor and detonated his vest of explosives. The governor suffered wounds to his face, torso and hand.

Violence in Iraq has eased from the height of sectarian clashes three years ago, though there are still bombings and shootings daily. Analysts have warned of a possible upsurge in attacks ahead of elections scheduled for March.

In a separate incident on Sunday, Iraqi officials said gunmen killed three guards in a drive-by shooting in the northern city of Mosul. Mosul is one of the last insurgent strongholds.

The three men killed were protecting a road being paved in western Mosul. An officer at the Mosul police command and a medical official at the city's morgue both gave information about the incident. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

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Associated Press Writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.