x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Iraqi governor wounded in blast

Twin attacks in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi kill 23 people and wound 30, including the governor of Anbar province.

Twin attacks in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi today killed 23 people and wounded 30, including the governor of Anbar province, the city's main hospital said. The first attack struck near a security checkpoint at a road junction leading to the governorate offices in the centre of the Anbar provincial capital at around 9.30am local time. A separate bombing 30 minutes later at the entrance to the governorate building some 200 metres away hit the convoy of governor Qassim Mohammed Abid as it was leaving, wounding him.

"The latest toll is 23 dead and 30 wounded," said a doctor at Ramadi General Hospital. "The governor is wounded. American forces came and took him for more treatment." Today's attacks mirrored co-ordinated bombings in Ramadi on October 11, when 19 people were killed and more than 80 wounded. At the time, a bomb went off at midday close to the offices of the provincial governor in a civilian car park, speeding the arrival of firemen and police.

A second car bomb then exploded, leading police to seal off the area, which was littered with body parts. Shortly afterwards at Ramadi General Hospital, where victims had been rushed for treatment, a suicide bomber struck. Ramadi, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, was a key insurgent base in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of 2003. Anbar, Iraq's biggest province, became the theatre of a brutal war focused on the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, while several towns along the Euphrates river valley became insurgent strongholds and later safe havens for fighters.

But since 2006, local Sunni tribes have sided with the US military. Daily violence has dropped dramatically as al Qa'eda fighters have been ejected from the region. Although attacks have dropped markedly across the country compared to last year, violence remains high by international standards. While November saw the fewest deaths as a result of violence of any month since the invasion, December has seen higher death tolls, notably as a result of December 8 bombings in Baghdad that killed 127 people.