x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Suicide bomber kills 10 in Iraq police station attack

Authorities say 22 also wounded in blast in Samarra blamed on al Qae¿da, nine days after suicide bomber attacked Shiite pilgrims at city's al Askari mosque.

BAGHDAD // A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb at a police station north of Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 10 police officers.

The attack in Samarra, 95km north of Baghdad, comes nine days after a suicide bomber targeted Shiite pilgrims returning from a religious ceremony at the city's al Askari mosque. Thirty-six were killed in that attack.

Two police officers said yesterday's bombing also wounded at least 22 people. A hospital official confirmed the casualty figures.

The police battalion that came under attack had been dispatched to the city from a southern Shiite province two weeks ago to help protect Shiite pilgrims during the ceremony, said Niyaz Oglu, a member of the area's provincial council.

Mr Oglu accused al Qa'eda in Iraq of organising the attack.

"They are taking revenge on the security forces that have foiled their attempts to ignite sectarian violence," he said.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but such attacks bear the hallmarks of al Qa'eda or its allied militant organisations who consider Shiites as heretics and enemies.

Samarra has been a flashpoint since a 2006 attack by al Qa'eda destroyed part of the golden-domed mosque there revered by Shiites. The event sparked a vicious bloodbath between the country's Shiite majority and Sunni minority that swept through the country.

Shiite pilgrims flocked to the site earlier this month to celebrate an important religious holiday, the death of the imam for whom the mosque is named, and extra forces were brought in to beef up security in the city.

Also yesterday, police and hospital officials in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah said a teenager died and 47 were wounded during overnight protests.

A Sulaimaniyah police official said that about 2,000 people took part in scattered demonstrations around the city late on Sunday. Many Kurds are frustrated by the tight grip with which the two ruling parties control the Kurdish autonomous region.

The official said Kurdish security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd.

Hospital officials said around 20 people were shot, including a 17-year-old who later died of his wounds. The others were hit by flying stones.

The Kurdish region has been spared much of the violence that has consumed the rest of Iraq since the US-led invasion, and the area attracts many foreign businesses looking to make a foothold in the country. But Kurds have become fed up by the lack of jobs and economic opportunity for people not affiliated with the two main political parties.

Last Thursday, two people were killed and nearly 50 injured in a protest at the Sulaimaniyah headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Since then, demonstrators have thronged the city's streets.