Suicide bombers strike across Iraq, killing dozens

BAGHDAD, Reuters

Suicide bombers struck across Iraq on Saturday in a sharp upsurge in violence that killed more than 60 people, many of them policemen. In the worst attack, a man driving a truck packed with explosives blew it up outside a police station in Baghdad’s volatile southern district of Dora, killing 20. The blast sent a large column of smoke into the air and rattled windows kilometers away in the center of the city.

Officers said the dead included 14 policemen and three detainees as well as three others working in the building. Another 26 were wounded. The blast caused major damage to the station, burying many victims in the rubble.

Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops are sweeping through Baghdad in a major operation to stem communal bloodshed. They have succeeded in reducing the number of sectarian shootings, but curbing daily car bombings has proved more difficult.

U.S. President George W. Bush is also sending more troops to the western province of Anbar, where Sunni Arab insurgents are exacting a bloody toll on Iraqi and U.S. forces. The U.S. military said a soldier was killed in combat there on Friday.

A suicide car bomber struck a police station in the Qaim area of Anbar, near the Syrian border, on Saturday while two others struck police checkpoints at about the same time.

Dr. Hamdi al-Alousi at Qaim hospital put the death toll from the attacks at six with 17 people, mostly police, wounded. Anbar provincial police said eight people had died.

A suicide truck bomber also struck near a Shiite mosque in the town of Haswa about 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, killing nine and wounding 43, a hospital source said.

In the northwestern town of Tal Afar a bomber wearing an explosives vest blew himself up in a market, killing 10 people, mayor Najim al Jibouri said. Two of the dead were policemen.