16 killed in Iraq attacks
BAGHDAD—Attacks in Iraq killed 16 people Wednesday, including 13 who died in twin bombings in the northern town of Tal Afar, just weeks before the country is due to host a landmark Arab summit.
The violence, which also left 24 people wounded, comes two days after suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen killed 27 policemen in a pre-dawn rampage in western Iraq, as officials insisted Baghdad was ready for the March 29 meeting, which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is set to attend.
“There were two explosions today, the first carried out by a car bomb and another by a suicide attack, in front of a restaurant,” Athil al-Nujaifi, governor of Nineveh province of which Tal Afar is part, told AFP.
“For the moment, the toll is 13 dead and 15 wounded.”
Two separate interior ministry officials, meanwhile, said 12 people were killed and at least 15 wounded in a car bomb and suicide blast. Differing tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of attacks in Iraq.
Tal Afar, a majority Shiite Turkmen town 380 kilometers (240 miles) north of Baghdad in mostly Sunni Nineveh, was the site of twin car bombings on December 14 in a market and restaurant area that killed two people and wounded 27.
The attack in Tal Afar comes two days after suspected Al-Qaeda militants stormed the town of Haditha in western Iraq, in a pre-dawn shooting spree that killed 27 policemen.
In March 2006, then US president George W. Bush Tal Afar hailed Tal Afar as a model town due to the low levels of violence at the time.
In Baghdad on Wednesday, two separate attacks in which insurgents placed bombs inside vehicles – one a taxi and the other a bus – killed three people and wounded nine, an interior ministry official said.
The capital’s security command centre released a statement calling on residents to “check their vehicles before driving and, after driving, do not leave your car in an unguarded public space.”
Violence in Iraq has declined in recent years after peaking in 2006 and 2007. According to official figures, 150 people were killed in February.
The latest attacks come ahead of a March 29 summit of the Arab League in Baghdad, the first non-emergency meeting of the 22-nation body to be held in the Iraqi capital in more than 30 years.
President Jalal Talabani said on Monday that preparations for the summit were complete, “and Baghdad is now ready to receive the Arab leaders.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon is due to attend the summit, Iraqi deputy foreign minister Labid Abbawi told AFP on Wednesday.
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