Triple suicide bombings kill 30 in Iraq ahead of elections

09:17, March 04, 2010      

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Three suicide bomb attacks on Wednesday killed 30 people and injured 45 others in Baquba, capital of the volatile Iraqi province of Diyala, a few days before the country's crucial elections on March 7.

Iraqi police commandos inspect damage inside a building at the site of a suicide bombing in the restive city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, March 3, 2010. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

The first attack took place at about 9:30 a.m. local time (0630 GMT) when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a police checkpoint near the building of the housing directorate in central Baquba and blew it up, the police said.

Moments later, another suicide bomber blew up his booby-trapped car near another government building close to the site of the first blast, said the police.

A third suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest among a crowd of people gathering outside the main hospital of Baquba to receive the victims of the two car bombings, the police added.

"At least 15 of the deaths were policemen and many others were among the wounded," the police said, citing a medical source in Baquba hospital.

Dr. Ali al-Timimi, Diyala's provincial health chief, and three of his bodyguards were among the wounded. Al-Timimi was at the entrance of the hospital supervising the receiving of dozens of victims when the suicide bomber attacked.

Meanwhile, experts with Iraqi security forces in the city defused another booby-trapped car parked near the passport office in central Baquba, according to the police reports.

Curfew was imposed and dozens of Iraqi security forces were deployed in the main entrances of the city, located some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, the police said.

Diyala province, which stretches from the eastern edges of Baghdad to the Iranian border east of the country, has long been a stronghold for al-Qaida militants and other insurgent groups since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite U.S. and Iraqi military operations against them.

Wednesday's attacks came days before the March 7 vote, during which around 19 million Iraqis, including 1.4 million living abroad in 16 countries, are set to elect 325 lawmakers out of over 6,000 candidates.

The general elections, Iraq's second since former President Saddam Hussein was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion, are widely expected to shape the future of Iraq.

An Iraqi police commando stands beside a demaged car at the site of a suicide bombing in the restive city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, March 3, 2010.

The attacks also came a day before about 800,000 voters from police, military, hospitals and detainees are to cast their ballots in some 1,700 ballot stations across Iraq's 18 provinces.

On Feb. 13, Abu Omer al-Baghdadi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq network, threatened in a statement to attack the war-torn country to prevent the voting process "by all possible means, primarily, the military means."

Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq, also warned Iraq's Sunni community against taking part in the elections that he described as "comedy and dangerous play" which was plotted by the Shiite and their American allies.

Source: Xinhua
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