BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Twin suicide bombings rocked a government compound in Iraq’s western city of Ramadi on Monday, killing as many as 17 people, a police source said.
Details of the attack, the second on the compound this month, remained sketchy with different sources giving varying figures for those killed and injured.
“The death toll has risen to 17, most of them police officers, and 47 people have been wounded,” said a police official at the site of the attack, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said the blasts were caused by two successive vehicle bombs, and rescue operations were still under way.
A doctor at Ramadi hospital, who also declined to be named, said that at least 14 people had been killed and 52 wounded. “Some of the injured are in serious condition. Emergency vehicles are still bringing in casualties,” he said.
Anbar Governor Qassim Mohammedsaid the attacks killed seven and wounded 28. He said the first blast happened when a minibus exploded outside the compound. The second was caused by a suicide bomber on foot, disguised as a policeman, he said.
The compound houses the provincial council as well as the police headquarters for Anbar province.
Hikmet Khalaf, the deputy governor of Anbar, blamed the attack on the Iraqi wing of al Qaeda.
“The goal of al Qaeda is clear, to strike at security in the province. This is not the first attack targeting the local government buildings. The attackers chose a crowded intersection in Ramadi to kill large numbers of civilians who were headed to the government buildings,” he told Reuters.
While overall violence in Iraq has dropped from the peak of sectarian warfare in 2006-7, bombings and attacks still occur daily. A suicide car bomber killed 13 people and wounded dozens at the same compound on December 12.
Last December, twin suicide blasts killed at least 24 and wounded more than 100 just outside the provincial government headquarters in Ramadi. The governor of Anbar province was critically wounded in one of the attacks, but survived.
The sprawling desert province of Anbar was the heartland of a Sunni Islamist insurgency after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Its main cities, Ramadi and Falluja, witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
Ramadi is 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad.