RAMADI, Iraq (AFP) – Bombs at the house of a prominent militia leader opposed to Al-Qaeda killed three people and wounded at least 11 in west Iraq on Sunday, security officials said.
The first bomb, planted by insurgents at the partially finished home of Sunni militia leader Murdhi Mohammed Khlaif in the town of Al-Qaim, went off at 9:00 am (0600 GMT) and killed three people, drawing a crowd, the town’s police chief said.
Colonel Jamal Shahab said that a second blast from explosives packed in a barrel wounded 11 people in the crowd.
But Lieutenant Jihad Mahalawi, who was at the scene of the bombings, gave a slightly different account, saying that the second bombing had killed the three people, and also wounded 20.
The house was under construction and neither Khlaif or any family members were on the site. He is the leader of a local Sunni militia that sided with the US military and turned against Al-Qaeda, helping stem the tide of a deadly insurgency in 2006.
Al-Qaim lies 340 kilometres (210 miles) west of Baghdad in predominantly Sunni Anbar province, Iraq’s largest.
The violence follows just two days after Iraq’s election commission announced complete results from the March 7 general election in which former premier Iyad Allawi narrowly edged out incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s coalition.
Allawi is in talks to cobble together a coalition government and security officials have warned that a protracted process could give insurgent groups an opportunity to further destabilise the country.
Violence has dropped dramatically across Iraq since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common, especially in Baghdad and the restive northern city of Mosul.
The election was a key test for Iraq, where US forces which invaded in 2003 have gradually been withdrawing. All American combat troops are set to withdraw from the country by the end of August, with the remainder pulling out altogether by the end of 2011.