BAGHDAD (AP) – A suicide truck bomber targeted the mayor of a town near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Wednesday, while another car bomb struck civilians elsewhere in northern Iraq, officials said.
The U.S. military said the suicide bomber was driving a 1982 pickup truck that blew up near the convoy carrying Abdul-Karim Ali Nsaif, also known as Abu Saif, the chief administrative official of Multaqa, a Sunni town about 35 kilometers (21 miles) west of Kirkuk.
Nsaif was on his way to work when the blast occurred, wounding him and three of his guards, Kirkuk police Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said.
Multaqa was known as the first place in the volatile area to form an awakening council, a U.S.-allied Sunni group that turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq, residents said. A parked car bomb also struck a local market in the Qayara area south of the northern city of Mosul, killing at least one civilian and wounding six others, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.
Mosul, is the center of ongoing U.S.-Iraqi military operations aimed at clearing the area of insurgents.
The attacks came a day after another suicide bomber blasted an Iraqi convoy in Baqouba, 35 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, killing two people but narrowly missing a provincial governor and the Iraqi army commander in charge of military operations in Diyala province.
The U.S. military initially said it had confirmed the bomber was a woman but later said the attack was carried out by a man dressed as a woman.
Iraqi soldiers spotted the suspect and “engaged him with small-arms fire, causing the vest to detonate prematurely,” the military said in a statement. A vehicle ban was imposed on the city, but was lifted at 6 a.m. Wednesday, it said.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government on Monday had announced a weeklong suspension of military operations in Diyala to give militants a chance to surrender.
Gov. Raad Rashid al-Tamimi and the commander of Iraqi ground forces, Gen. Ali Ghaidan, were traveling to a meeting of the provincial council in Baqouba when the attack occurred, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Neither the governor nor the general was injured, they said.
Diyala, stretching northeast from Baghdad to the Iranian border, has proven among the most difficult of Iraq’s 18 provinces to pacify, in part because of its complex mixture of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
Many Sunnis in Diyala and other northern areas feel disenfranchised. Shiites hold a disproportionate share of power, including the governorship, because many Sunnis boycotted the last provincial election in January 2005. A bill to hold new provincial elections failed to win parliamentary approval this month because of a dispute over power-sharing in the northern Iraqi oil center of Kirkuk.
Al-Maliki launched a military operation in Diyala last month, hoping to replicate successes against Shiite and Sunni militants in Baghdad, the southern city of Basra and the northern city of Mosul.