Bombers hit government buildings in Iraq's Anbar

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 20, 2011 10:43 AM
Bombers hit government buildings in Iraq's Anbar

By Fadhel al-Badrani

FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Suicide bombers hit a municipal government complex in Iraq's mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province on Tuesday, killing at least two people and wounding 15 others, officials said.

Two suicide bombers wearing explosive vests and a third driving a car blew themselves up at the government buildings in central Ramadi, officials said.

Anbar, the vast desert province to the west of Baghdad that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war, has been the scene of sectarian tensions in recent days after the killings of 22 mainly Shi'ite pilgrims.

"Two suicide bombers wearing vests blew themselves up at the government building. The other one was a car bomb on the other side of the complex," said Mohammed Fathi, spokesman for Anbar Governor Qassim Mohammed. "So far we have two killed and 15 wounded. Three of the 15 were policemen."

"The death toll could increase because some of the wounded are seriously wounded."

Security sources also said the blast killed two people and wounded 15. Anbar Governor Qassim Mohammed put the wounded toll at 11.

Security forces "shot at one of them. He tried to escape and they shot him again, the second one moved forward, they shot at him and blew him up and the third blew himself up," Mohammed said.

"These (attacks) are a reaction because they were planning for sectarian strife and when it failed, they had this reaction."

Violence has dropped sharply in Iraq since the peak of sectarian fighting in 2006-07 but bombings and other attacks still occur daily as the army and police battle Sunni insurgents and Shi'ite Muslim militias.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in cities and towns across Anbar last Friday to protest the arrest of eight local men suspected in the Shi'ite pilgrim killings.

Gunmen attacked two buses carrying pilgrims from the Iraqi city of Kerbala to Syria on September 12, killing 22 men while sparing 15 women, 12 children and two elderly men.

The killings and the arrests sparked anger between Anbar and neighboring Kerbala province and prompted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other officials to try to defuse tensions by meeting tribal leaders.

Sectarian tensions still simmer in Iraq more than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein as Iraq's government tries to decide whether to ask U.S. troops to stay past a year-end deadline for their departure.

(Additional reporting by Waleed Ibrahim and Aseel Kami; Editing by Jim Loney and Myra MacDonald)