Iraqis say bomber kills at least 10
Blast in Baqubah appears to target security officers
BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber killed at least 10 people in Diyala province yesterday morning in an attack that appeared to target Iraqi police, Iraqi officials said.
The female attacker set off the explosives about 11:20 a.m. outside the main government building in the province's capital, Baqubah, which is north of Baghdad.
The attack was carried out outside the city's courthouse, where law enforcement officials tend to congregate. The building has been targeted numerous times in recent years.
Several nearby shops and buildings sustained considerable damage, Iraqi officials said.
The US military said seven people - five Iraqi soldiers and two civilians - were killed and 21 civilians were wounded. Conflicting casualty tolls are common in Iraq.
Iraqi and US officials say Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups have turned to women and teenagers to carry out suicide bombings as it has become harder for the group to get non-Iraqi Arabs to travel to the country to carry out those attacks.
Widows and teenagers in poor, war-ravaged areas have proven to be susceptible to pressure from the insurgents, US officials say. Some female suicide bombers are widows of slain insurgents motivated by a desire to avenge their deaths, officials say.
Since 2003, more than 50 women have carried out suicide bombings or were detained before detonating vests packed with explosives in Iraq, according to the US military. Such bombings have killed at least 380 people and wounded hundreds more. So far this year, more than 30 women have either carried out suicide bombings or been intercepted before doing so, according to the military.
Ibrahim Hasan Bajilan, chairman of the Diyala provincial council, said US military officials found a male suicide bomber who was unable to carry out a second attack nearby.
Bajilan said he was told the female suicide bomber was a 16-year-old from Muqdadiyah, a town northeast of Baghdad.
The blast targeted a group of Iraqi soldiers who were conducting a patrol with policemen from Khalis, a town near Baqubah, Iraqi officials said. The town's mayor said this marked the third time his officers have been targeted near the courthouse.
In a separate development yesterday, an Iraqi archbishop expressed concern over what he called a "campaign of killings and deportations" against Christians in the northern city of Mosul after police reported seven Christians killed in separate attacks this month.
"We are worried about the campaign of killings and deportations against the Christian citizens in Mosul," Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako said in a statement.
"Such violations are damaging the national unity," Sako said. "The Christians want only to live in peace and harmony and to work together with all Iraqis for the benefit of Iraq."
The violence has occurred despite US-Iraqi operations launched over the summer aimed at routing Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents from remaining strongholds north of the capital.
Iraqi police in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, have reported finding the bodies of seven Christians who were shot in separate attacks so far in October.
The others included a clothing store owner, a teenager, two other day laborers, a pharmacy employee and a handicapped man who owns a spare parts store, police said. Iraqis have their religions listed on government-issued ID cards.
Sako is based in the northern city of Kirkuk but has overseen the Christian community in Mosul since the killing of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, whose body was found in March after he was kidnapped by gunmen.
The Christian community has been estimated at 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people, or about 800,000 Christians.
Islamic extremists have frequently targeted them since the 2003 US invasion, forcing tens of thousands to flee the country. Attacks had tapered off amid a drastic decline in overall violence nationwide, but concerns are rising about the deaths this month.
Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.