x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Truck bombs kill at least 16 in Iraq

Two truck bombs explode north of Baghdad today, indicating that insurgents are targeting relatively unprotected areas.

Two truck bombs struck separate communities north of Iraq's capital today, killing at least 16 people in the latest attacks that indicate insurgents are targeting relatively unprotected areas. Opportunities for insurgents to attack appear to have increased as security forces focus on defending the cities. The Iraqi government is eager to demonstrate it can protect the population following the withdrawal of US combat troops from urban areas nearly two months ago. But a recent series of high-profile bombings that have killed hundreds in both major cities and remote areas has raised concerns Iraqi forces are not up to the task.

Today's deadliest attack came at about 8am when a suicide truck bomber attacked a small police station in the remote village of Hamad north of Baghdad, killing at least 12 people, including six police, said officials from the Iraqi army and police. Police attempted to stop the truck, opening fire and forcing the attacker to change direction and slam into a concrete barrier near a market, they said. The blast damaged the police station and a number of nearby homes and shops, the officials said.

Fifteen people were also wounded in the attack, said the police official. Hamad is a primarily Sunni village that lies on the edge of Shirqat, a town between Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and Mosul, which the US military considers to be the last urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq. The attack comes three days after Iraqi police defused a car bomb in the same area, said Shirqat's police chief, Ali al-Jubouri. "I think this attack is in retaliation for what we did," he said.

The second attack occurred near Mosul in the city of Sinjar, where a parked truck bomb that exploded at about 10:15am killed at least four people and wounded 23 others, another police official said. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media. * AP