Suicide bombers hit Baghdad police station

Two suicide car bombers rammed their vehicles into an Iraqi police station in south-western Baghdad on Sunday, killing 10 people and wounding 75, police said.

The attack in the mostly Shi’ite al-Bayaa neighbourhood was one of the deadliest against Iraqi security forces in the capital since a United States-backed security crackdown was launched in mid-February.

Police and civilians were among the dead and wounded, police said. The blasts set several police vehicles on fire and also damaged the police station.

US and Iraqi forces have poured thousands of extra troops into Baghdad over the past two months in an attempt to halt Iraq’s slide into all-out sectarian civil war.

While the increase in troop levels has reduced killings by sectarian death squads, car bomb attacks still plague the city.

A wave of car bombs killed nearly 200 people in Baghdad last Wednesday, the worst violence in the capital since the security plan began.

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said in remarks published on Sunday that the troop build-up had yielded modest progress but a rise in suicide bombings made the ultimate success of the security crackdown uncertain.

Petraeus and other senior US officers in Iraq told the Washington Post in interviews that the increase in US and Iraqi troops had improved security in Baghdad and restive western Anbar province but that attacks had risen sharply in other regions.

They said it was critical Iraqi leaders made the political compromises needed to ensure long-term stability.

US President George Bush has committed almost 30 000 additional troops, mostly to Baghdad, the centre of violence between minority Sunni Arabs and majority Shi’ites.

The military commanders told the Post that sectarian killings in Baghdad fell to fewer than 400 in March from 1 200 in January.

“We have certainly pulled neighbourhoods back from the brink,” Petraeus was quoted as saying.

But the commanders said the increase in suicide bomb attacks was troubling because of the danger of re-igniting sectarian revenge killings and undermining the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

“I don’t think you’re ever going to get rid of all the car bombs,” Petraeus said. “Iraq is going to have to learn—as did, say, Northern Ireland—to live with some degree of sensational attacks.”

He said a more realistic goal was preventing the bombings from causing “horrific damage”.

Two American soldiers were killed in attacks in Baghdad on Saturday, the US military said.
One was killed by small arms fire while another died in a roadside bomb blast. Another soldier was killed southwest of the capital.—Reuters

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